During the study, 68 people who were on the verge of committing suicide were treated with anti-depressants.
This study on Ketamine is being supported by Janssen Research and Development. Researchers, including those from Janssen Research and Development, found a significant improvement in depression scores and decreased suicidal ideation in the esketamine group compared to the placebo group at four hours and at 24 hours. The research team stated the results of the phase 2 study provide a strong case for the nasal spray esketamine to be used as a fast-acting and effective treatment for depressive symptoms in patients assessed to be at imminent risk for suicide. Patients who are also at risk of suicidality were randomly assigned to receive Ketamine or a placebo nasal spray twice a week for a period of four weeks. In this double-blind, proof-of-concept study, researchers examined the efficacy and safety of intranasal esketamine vs. placebo for the rapid reduction of depressive symptoms and suicidality in patients with major depression. Ketamine could also help in the starting stages of treatment, since most anti-depressants take four to six weeks to take effect. However effects levelled out at 25 days.
Researchers said those treated with the esketamine saw a greater improvement in their symptoms after the first day, compared with those who had taken the placebo.
A nasal spray formulation of ketamine shows promise in the rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study published online today in The American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP).
Recorded side effects include dizziness, dissociation, unpleasant taste, and headache. "The results of this study reinforce the potential of esketamine as an acute treatment for patients in crisis".
However, the researchers, as well as members of the AJP Editorial Board, acknowledged the unsafe potential for abuse that surrounds the drug. "We look forward to the completion of our ongoing phase 3 trials and to bringing this important, potential new therapy to patients in desperate need".
"Education of the public and physicians needs to balance both potential benefits and the risk of abuse".
The authors caution that more research is needed on the potential for abuse of ketamine. "Rather, the aim is to establish the risk for abuse and the framework within which that treatment will continue to be available to those with need, while the population that is at risk for abuse is protected from an epidemic of misuse". Please see the full study for all other authors' relevant financial disclosures.