April 23, 2019 – Esketamine


Anchor lead: FDA approval of a new treatment for depression has some applauding, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Esketamine is the name of a new drug given by nasal spray to help alleviate depression, recently approved by the FDA. Atsushi Kamiya, a depression expert at Johns Hopkins, says many clinicians are hopeful about the drug.

Kamiya: It’s possible this will be very exciting news for us.  :04

Depression rates, along with suicidal thoughts and sometimes suicide attempts, are rising nationally.

Kamiya: There are more than 60 million people have a least one major depressive episode in their life, more than 30% will need an antidepressant.  :14

Currently available antidepressants often work via a brain neurotransmitter called serotonin, and may take days to weeks to have an effect. Kamiya notes that ketamine, cousin to esketamine, seems to help alleviate depression very quickly, although questions about how durable the response will be remain. For now esketamine is used in people who aren’t responding to other treatments, but current research is examining the use of both ketamine and esketamine for use more broadly. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.