Individuals suffering from long-term depression yet to find an effective treatment for their symptoms may soon find respite: a recent study performed in Australia has shown that ketamine, a well-known horse tranquilizer and party drug also known as “Special K,” has shown a 75 percent success rate in treating patients suffering from long-term depression.
While the potential for ketamine to aid in the treatment of depression has been known for years now, what makes this clinical trial so remarkable is the efficacy and quick nature in which the drug was able to treat the symptoms of long-term depression.
Dr. Colleen Loo, who carried out the clinical trials at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, spoke effusively to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about the effectiveness the drug showed in trials.
“It’s truly amazing both in terms of how powerful the effect is, but also how quickly it works,” Loo told ABC. “Other treatments we know, medications, psychological therapy, electro-convulsive therapy, take weeks to work. The fact that you can go from being depressed to being well in one day is unheard of.”
The study administered ketamine injections to a series of patients who were resistant to other treatments for long-term depression, and studied how patients responded to the new drug. While the results were not 100 percent effective, the 75 percent success rate was startlingly impressive to the researchers, and signified just how useful the drug could be in widespread field usage.
Unlike Australia, the medicinal usefulness of ketamine has been approved in the U.S. and due to recent developments, it may soon become commonplace in medical practice.
At present, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is in the process of bringing a patented form of medicinal ketamine to market in the form of an intranasal spray called Esketamine, Reuters reports.
After a 2012 study by Yale University and the National Institute of Mental Health showed that ketamine may cause new connections to be formed between the nerve cells in the brain that regulate emotion and mood, Johnsons &Johnson began testing research and development on the drug.
Currently in second of four trial phases required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before drugs are brought to market, officials at J&J have called Esketamine one of their most promising drugs and hope it will be available by 2017.