He also is named as co-inventor on patents filed by the Icahn School of Medicine relating to the treatment for treatment-resistant depression, suicidal ideation and other disorders.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a mind-altering medication from Johnson & Johnson to treat the patients with severe depression and other mental illnesses.
Esketamine, which was approved Tuesday by the FDA, differs from previous treatments in that it will be sold as a nasal spray, according to manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson. Esketamine and ketamine work by targeting glutamate, unlike now used antidepressants that target serotonin, and doctors were already using ketamine off-label to treat depression, according to the AP. To prevent abuse, patients must take the drug in a doctor's office or medical facility and can not take it home.
"The amount of active ingredient that's in this product, it's at a very, very low dose", Billington said.
More than 16 million adults in the United States suffer from depression.
The approval of J&J's modern-day anti-depressant nasal spray marks the first advanced treatment innovated for fighting depression in decades. That means patients who have not responded to "at least two antidepressant treatments given at adequate doses for an adequate duration in the current episode", according to the FDA. He's administered Ketamine treatments for the past eight years, taking in those who have failed with other antidepressants and are at risk for suicide.
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Many doctors who have become comfortable offering ketamine for depression probably won't switch to esketamine, said Dr. Demitri Papolos, director of research for the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation and a clinical associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The FDA approved Spravato, chemically known as esketamine.
The list price of a drug is not necessarily what patients actually pay. At least 150 clinics around the US provide treatment with various forms of the drug, which is available as a low-priced generic.
Janssen said it plans to offer information about insurance coverage, out-of-pocket costs, and treatment support through its CarePath program.
"This is going to bring in some standards, regulation and it's going to make it safer and more accessible to patients", said Levine, who serves as vice president of the American Society of Ketamine Physicians, a group representing doctors, nurses and others using ketamine for treating depression or other nonapproved uses.