Johnson & Johnson has just been granted FDA approval on a revolutionary new anti-depressant. The new treatment, which is called Spravato (drug name esketamine) is a nasal spray that is meant to influence the NMDA receptor in the brain that has been linked to depression. FDA approval was granted after “statistically significant” effects were observed in a trial. The new drug is closely chemically related to the club drug ketamine.

Although it was approved, the new medication has many risks and is therefore required to be used only under the direct supervision of a physician. Side effects may include sedation and dissociation, and as such patients are required to stay with a professional caretaker for two hours after taking the medication. Additionally, the prescription is only suggested for those with treatment-resistant depression, meaning that their depressive symptoms have not responded to at least two forms of more conventional anti-depressant drugs.

Nevertheless, many hope that this new treatment will be a step in the right direction for mental health in the United States. The FDA granted the drug both “Fast Track” and “Breakthrough Therapy” designations. For the full statement from the FDA, see here. Johnson & Johnson announced the news in a press release on Tuesday.



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