PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A revolutionary treatment for depression is still waiting for the FDA’s expected approval. If the approval comes through, it would be the first big depression advance since the introduction of Prozac, back in 1987.
Millions of people struggle with depression and the treatments currently available don’t always work.
That’s why there’s so much interest in this new medication that’s being called a potential game changer.
The drug, Spravato, is a a nasal spray that can relieve severe depression in hours, instead of weeks. It’s based on the anesthetic Ketamine, which is also a mind-altering party drug called “Special K.”
It works in a different way than traditional medications like Prozac and Zoloft; something that could be helpful for millions of people like Kayla Snyder, who suffers with debilitating depression.
“Every three to six months, I seem to have a severe depressive episode, which includes not getting out of bed for a week to two weeks, not showering, not eating,” Snyder said.
When traditional anti-depressants didn’t work and she became suicidal, Snyder started regular intravenous Ketamine infusions.
“I didn’t have suicidal thoughts everyday, which I used to have, and, like, planning suicides at any moment,” Snyder said. “And I just felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
In clinical trials — some done at the University of Pennsylvania — the nasal spray version of the drug had similar benefits.
“It really helps your entire life,” Snyder said, “not just, ‘Oh, let’s get high for an hour and then go back to a depressing life.’ It’s more — it changes your life in a positive way.”
The Ketamine infusions cost $475 and they’re not reimbursed by insurance.
If the FDA approves the nasal spray, it will likely be covered, which would open the door to treat more people.