The recent FDA approval of the use of esketamine for treatment-resistant depression means many Americans suffering will soon find relief. The drug, Spravato, was approved for patients who have failed to respond at all to at least two other antidepressant medications. After years of clinical trials, the decision to officially approve Spravato took a month before a panel of experts voted in favor of the new treatment. Since treatment-resistant depression plagues so many among us, this new treatment has generated tremendous hope for depression sufferers, their loved ones, and their mental health clinicians.
“Esketamine works through a mechanism different from those of drugs like Prozac…and that is probably why studies show it can often help people with major depressive disorder who haven’t been helped by other drugs,” said Dr. Dennis Charney, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Spravato is administered as a nasal spray. This is different than the comparable alternative—ketamine infusions—which are delivered intravenously. Of note, just as ketamine infusions are administered at treatment centers, the nasal spray, Spravato, will also be administered in a healthcare setting. While receiving esketamine, which is administered once or twice a week, patients are also prescribed antidepressants. This results in the patient receiving both the immediate benefits from the fast-acting Spravato, as well as the long-term benefits of the antidepressant medications.
While Spravato underwent years of clinical trials on its road towards FDA-approval, ketamine infusions were widely available at clinics like ours across the country. Ketamine has been FDA approved as an anesthetic and analgesic since the 1970s—its patent has long since expired. Its unpatentability rendered it undesirable for pharmaceutical companies to fund the clinical trials needed for it to gain approval as a depression treatment, but it did spark the development of drugs like Spravato, which mimic the effects of traditional ketamine.
The hope with Spravato is that insurance companies will cover the cost of treatment, making it more affordable than ketamine. Generic intravenous ketamine infusion treatment usually costs the patient on average, $500-800 per dose. However, The wholesale cost of each esketamine treatment is even pricer, at $590 to $885, depending on the dosage. Subsequent weekly treatments will only cost half as much. The key unknown at this point is the willingness of insurance companies to step up and cover the cost of Spravato.
We’re sure that this new drug will settle into its position in mental healthcare, and we’ll continue to learn more about both Spravato and ketamine, and how they work to treat mental health conditions. Check back with our blog, as we’ll continue to share news and information about developments in the use of Spravato.
Contact Vitalitas Denver
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, sadness, nervousness, or hopelessness, reach out today. Vitalitas is one of the country’s leading ketamine clinics. Our highly experienced and qualified staff can guide you in a direction of hope and health…whatever direction that may be.