Antidepressant made with party drug gets FDA panel’s backing

Feb. 13, 2019

An experimental nasal spray developed by Johnson & Johnson to treat depression could be headed for FDA approval. 

The treatment, esketamine, includes a compound similar to ketamine, an often-abused drug that can induce sedation and a trance-like state. But J&J’s treatment is believed to restore nerve cell connections that improve depression symptoms. One panel member who voted to recommend approval for esketamine said the drug could be a “game-changer” for depression patients. 

An FDA advisory panel voted 14-2 in favor of approving esketamine for patients who have already tried two other depression treatments. The panel also recommended that the FDA implement a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy for how esketamine is prescribed and dispensed.  

The FDA is expected to make a final approval decision about esketamine by March 4. 

Read the full Reuters report.