A new FDA-approved drug for medication-resistant depression is coming to South Florida next week. The drug is called esketamine, which is marketed as Spravato, and it is a nasal spray that quickly reduces severe depression. The nasal spray is supposed to give relief from depression within hours, which could be a huge breakthrough for people who are at risk for suicide.
Manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. said a one-month course of treatment will cost between $4,720 and $6,785. Because Spravato is FDA-approved for depression as of March 5, however, insurance and Medicare may cover some or all of the cost. Although it may be covered by insurance, Dr. Bob Speth, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Pharmacy in Davie, said he would like to see the cost of Spravato lowered.
Still, he see the advantages of a drug that absorbs quickly through the mucus membrane and believes the fast-acting nature of esketamine could help prevent suicides. Waiting several weeks for a traditional antidepressant to take effect is a “dangerous period” for someone who is depressed, Speth said. “If this new drug can act within hours to alleviate depression, that’s a huge breakthrough.”
Speth said he is cautiously keeping an eye on its outcomes. “Once it gets into widespread use, some effects may show up that were one in a thousand during the trials,” he said.
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