FDA Approves Nasal Spray That Treats Depression

Azalia Munoz, Senior Spotlight Editor

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Distributed by Johnson & Johnson, the first-ever nasal spray that can treat depression, Spravato, has been cleared by the FDA to treat depression, and research that has been conducted shows that the drug can be effective in hours instead of weeks. The results are credited to the use of esketamine, one of the two mirror-image molecules that form ketamine. Ketamine is a medication mainly used for anesthesia – the medication puts the user in a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss. The difference between the two is small, seeing as though esketamine is a part of ketamine. This spray is for people who have “treatment-resistant depression,” meaning that a person has to have no effect with two other depression treatments prior to acquiring the spray.

Depression is a problem in the United States, impacting mostly teenagers/young adults. A report found that diagnoses are most prevalent among those under 35 – diagnoses going up by 47%. Even with these reports, most people go untreated + don’t report what they’re going through. Depression is caused by a lack of the chemical, serotonin which is what causes people to feel ‘happy’. Most depression treatments target the chemical serotonin, but Spravato targets glutamate which is why this seems to work more effectively for people who haven’t found success with traditional treatments. During the first month of treatment, patients will either receive a 56mg dose or an 84mg dose twice a week. The cost of Spravato per treatment session will range from $590 – $885, although this all depends on insurance + other factors.

Side effects include disassociation, dizziness, sedation, decreased feeling or sensitivity, anxiety, lethargy, increased blood pressure, vomiting, and feeling drunk.

It will be released March 5th, and a website will be available to purchase + more research will be on the website for potential users to read.



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