The Atlantic – not the Enquirer, not MAD magazine – is reporting that President Donald Trump said yesterday that the government will purchase “a lot” of the drug esketamine, a derivative of ketamine, to benefit veterans with depression.
“There’s a product that’s made right now that just came out by Johnson & Johnson which has a tremendously positive—pretty short-term, but nevertheless positive—effect,” Trump said.
“Hopefully we are getting it at a very good cost,” Trump said. “I guess it’s a form of a stimulant where if somebody is really in trouble from the standpoint of suicide, it can do something.” The drug is, in fact, a sedative; ketamine has long been used as an anesthetic. And its daily cost is $737.50.
Speaking to veterans later that day in Kentucky, Trump reiterated the promise: “I’ve instructed the top officials to go out and get as much of it as you can from Johnson & Johnson.”
Soooooo…. Party at the VA hospital? Sorry. Sorry. I kid. I just never thought I’d live to see the President of the United States giving the OK for K use…. My 1990 self is PLOTZING right now.
Despite Trump’s remarks, however, the VA spokesperson, Susan Carter, says that the agency has no immediate plans to change its policy:
“VA will closely monitor the use of esketamine in veterans to more fully understand its relative safety and effectiveness as compared to other available treatments. Based on this information, VA may revise its clinical guidance and formulary status if warranted.”
The use of Ketamine, though, HAS been approved for the treatment of depression, but only for use in conjunction with an oral antidepressant medication, and only for the treatment of severe cases of depression where other approaches haven’t helped.
Given the many potential adverse effects, the drug has to be administered by a physician. The patient then has to be overseen for two subsequent hours. Effectively, esketamine was deemed safe enough for doctors to consider prescribing when everything else has failed and a person is still suffering.