The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is on the brink of approving a breakthrough drug that could upend the way severe depression is treated.
Johnson & Johnson's esketamine, a close chemical cousin of the anesthetic ketamine, cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday when a panel of outside experts recommended that the FDA approve the treatment. The fast-acting antidepressant, administered via a nasal spray, is being tested in major depressive disorder and suicidal thinking. If approved, it would be the first major therapeutic advance for depression since the introduction of Prozac in 1987.
Prozac and other currently available antidepressants take weeks to work and don't help all patients, so esketamine could mark a significant shift in depression therapy.