President Trump Expresses Interest In New Ketamine Derived Anti-Depressant For VA Use
Earlier this year, the FDA approved a Ketamine-derived medication, Esketamine, by a 14-2 vote. The drug is set to be used in treating chronic depression. The Ketamine-derived drug is processed into Spravato, which is administered via nasal spray. Spravato is currently being manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson called Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
In recent news, it was revealed that U.S. President Donald Trump expressed great interest in the new drug, and would be fast-tracking the drug for VA use. It is reported that approximately 20 veterans commit suicide daily. With this being said, this new drug might help reduce this ongoing issue.
An initial study of the drug involved 68 people who were deemed “high-risk patients”. All 68 of these patients were on antidepressants or other forms of treatment. Forty percent of those who were given Esketamine were deemed to be “no longer at risk of killing themselves”. This was determined within 24 hours of the conclusion of the study.
This is great news for HealthCare Professionals, Veterans, and of course the drug’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson. I say this as one analysis estimates Spravato could earn “$600m for the company by 2022“. It seems as though they have a good gameplan in mind for this drug.
Trump & #BeThere
As of late, President Trump has been addressing the topic of “Veteran Suicide Prevention” rather aggressively. This is due in part to the fact that numerous veterans have killed themselves since April, on VA properties. This has resulted in the creation of an aggressive task force to combat the issue.
In addition to this, a new suicide prevention campaign has been established with the slogan “#BeThere“. This was created in partnership with Johnson & Johnson. When speaking about the campaign, a VA spokesperson went on the record to state that the VA would:
“undertake new clinical trial processes in hopes of providing access to the latest and most innovative treatments to help veterans in need.”
While this is great news for Veterans dealing with depression and suicidal ideation, not everyone is for Spravato. In response to those in doubt, the VA also put out the following statement:
“[The]…VA has not yet administered Esketamine to any patients, and is in the process of designing a clinical implementation plan optimized for safety and efficacy,”.
Much of this backlash has come as a result of how quickly Spravato‘s approval has proceeded. The drug passed through the VA‘s usual approval process quickly; only two weeks from its original March 19 FDA approval date. It stated that “the goal was to treat the first VA patient with Spravato within 90 days”.
While it seems this did not happen, it is good news overall. This is because those in charge are obviously aware of the effectiveness of this drug. This is a nice departure from the way other medicinal medications have been treated in the past. These are medications such as Marijuana, and Psilocybin.
While suicide and depression are no laughing matter, it seems as though we may finally have a solution. Prescription drugs are obviously not always the answer. With that being said, it is nice to see our VA Administration working hard to put an end to the ongoing issue of Veteran Suicide. For more information be sure to check out the Department of Veterans Affairs here. Learn more about Spravato here.
H/T – The Guardian