July 21, 2021 – Generic ketamine isn’t specifically approved as a depression treatment, but U.S. doctors are often allowed to prescribe Food and Drug Administration-approved medicines “off-label” for another use.

A growing body of evidence has shown ketamine, which has been used since the 1970s in the field of anesthesia, can be successful in treating depression and suicidal behaviors. In fact, ketamine is part of a growing field of research into whether drugs that have traditionally been viewed as illegal psychedelics or party drugs could, in certain contexts, help people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral healthand psychiatric disorders. In 2019, the FDA approved Spravato, a ketamine-related nasal spray drug, given in conjunction with antidepressants that has been shown to help people with treatment-resistant depression. But many clinics offer generic ketamine, often in the form of intravenous infusions.

Dr. Steven Mandel, founder and president of Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles, said because ketamine is already a low-cost generic drug, it’s unlikely that a pharmaceutical company would pay for the process that would be needed to get the drug approved specifically as a depression treatment.


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