FF12: Esketamine nasal spray could transform treatment of depression

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) A new drug researched in Wichita looks different and works differently than your common antidepressants.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Spravato, known chemically as esketamine, as a fast-acting treatment for patients who have failed to find relief with at least two antidepressants.

Dr. Matthew Macaluso, who was instrumental in the research, says it's different than anything out there.

"Depression is an illness that causes people to suffer," Macaluso said. "It's a medical illness just like someone having diabetes or heart disease. It robs people of their lives."

To date, there have been no medications that truly target the underlying cause of depression. With esketamine, Macaluso says we may have a drug that finally does just that.

"So I operated a clinical trial site here at KU Wichita. We saw patients with treatment-resistant depression and we enrolled them in these esketamine trials," Macaluso said.

Those trials tested esketamine for people who have not responded to other antidepressants.

"With antidepressants that are otherwise on the market, it takes several weeks for people to get better if they ever do," Macaluso said.

Esketamine, Dr. macaluso says could take as little as one treatment to help.

So what does this mean for you?

If you're one of the 15 to 17 percent of the population who suffers from depression, you can talk to your doctor about the drug.

The drug must be taken at a doctor's office and under supervision of a doctor. Plan to spend at least two hours there so your symptoms can be monitored.

There are potential side effects like dissociation or seeing things that are not there but that goes away quickly. Driving and operating machinery is prohibited.