- Johnson and Johnson gets approval for a nasal spray for Suicide
- Company’s VP of neuroscience medical-affairs unit says the spray will be soon available to people
Johnson & Johnson’s nasal spray named Spravato has been approved as the first antidepressant for actively suicidal people as the doctors’ concerns have increased over the period of time about the effect of the novel Coronavirus on the mental health of Americans.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the nasal spray which means that this quick-acting spray will be available to the people with suicidal thoughts and also plans to put them into action, said the Vice President of Johnson & Johnson’s US Neuroscience Medical-affairs unit, Michelle Kramer.
This constitutes 11% to 12% of as many as 17 million (1.7 crore) Americans who have a major depressive disorder.
The nasal spray Spravato has been used by around 6000 people in the treatment-resistant depression since it was approved back in March 2019 said Kramer. Johnson and Johnson’s decision to study it in the depressed people actively contemplating suicide bucks a trend among the American drugmakers who exclude such patients from the trials.
Kramer said that a reason behind the decision was that their nasal spray has the ability to act quickly which could mean that it works differently than the older antidepressants which could take weeks to show slightest of difference.
The firm, in its studies, found that those who got the drug had a rapid reduction in the severity of their thinking of suicide, although the results did not differ statistically significant way from the patients who were on placebo.
The Director of Yale’s Depression Research Program, Gerard Sanacora who is also a trial investigator said that the data from the studies of the drug shows that it “may offer clinicians a new way to provide support to patients quickly in the midst of an urgent depressive episode and help set them on the path to remission,”.
The United States of America has been in the agony of a suicide crisis since before the pandemic with the rate rising by as much as 30% from 1999 to 2016. The Covid-19 closures limited the number of people given the spray as a depression treatment in-person at specified centres.
However, in the end, the number improved as the patients and centres adapted and concerns grew within the mental health community that this physical distancing and social isolation of quarantine could worsen the existing problems of the people and could even introduce new ones.
Kramer said, “Relatively rapidly within a few weeks we saw the numbers stabilize, which was pretty interesting for us and validating in the sense that clinic and patients alike were continuing to make this available,” and added saying “We certainly see more and more sites sign on and more and more patients are treated.”
A report says, “Spravato is a close chemical cousin of the anesthetic ketamine, which differs from existing antidepressants because it acts on the glutamate system in the brain rather than on serotonin or norepinephrine. Scientists have been working to better understand how the drug helps patients and why it works so quickly.”
The approval for the drug in 2019 marked the first key breakthrough for depression since the year 1987. President of the United States of America Donald Trump, since the approval, has trumpeted the drug as having the potential to curb the suicides in veterans, however, a Veterans Affairs medical panel approved the drug to be used on a limited basis only.