AUSTIN,Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A form of a once-popular “club drug” has gained federal approval for the treatment of severe depression.
A nasal spray, containing a form of ketamine, will be available to adults who've tried other anti-depressant medicines, but haven't benefited from them.
The spray is called Spravato and it comes with several requirements. It must be administered in a medical facility and the user must be supervised by a doctor.
Jeff Barnett spent the last year learning to live with some pretty devastating diagnosis.
“So he has early onset dementia, he has multiple sclerosis and he has a really, really rare disease called Geniculate Neuralgia,” said Tressa Barnett, Jeff’s wife.
Geniculate Neuralgia is a disease that affects a nerve in the brain and it's known to cause constant pain similar to an ice pick in the ear.
“They actually call his disease the suicide disease, because the pain is so bad people will commit suicide because they can't get away from it,” Tressa said.
Treatment for it is tricky. Radiation and surgery weren't options for Jeff and opiate painkillers barely helped at all. That's why, in October, he agreed to try something different.
“The nurses said it will take your pain away. Okay, then let’s do it,” said Jeff.
Jeff said the difference he felt was shocking.
“Pain just went away in an instant,” Jeff said.
However, the solution to his pain problem came with a hefty price tag.
“For every hour of ketamine, it costs $5,000. He needs three hours to give him six weeks of relief. We don't have $15,000,” said Tressa.
Then, last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced approval of Spravato, a nasal spray containing esketamine, for treatment-resistant depression.
“I'm just so thankful that this new nasal spray has come out,” Jeff said.
The use of ketamine for severe depression is something the Klarisana clinic knows all about.
“Depression, anxiety, PTSD, those kind of issues are what bring people here,” said Zackery Tedder, a psychotherapist who works with clients receiving ketamine infusions.
Klarisana’s ketamine infusions cost about $3,000-4,000 for a series of six treatments, but, Zackery said, for those who can afford it, it's worth every cent.
“Ketamine has a beautiful efficacy in reducing suicidality almost immediately in about 98 percent of patients,” Tedder said.
Tressa said Spravato will be available to Jeff for the first time this week and they've been told it will cost much less than IV treatments.
“That new nasal spray came out and for $75 you get three treatments, which is three month treatments,” said Tressa.
That will give Jeff a chance to create pain free memories with his family once again.
“With his condition, it's only going to get worse, I get that, but, if I can make it longer to have him here with me, I want him here with me,” Tressa said.
“It's a life changer,” said Jeff.
Although, the Barnett's have been quoted a much lower price, the FDA said Spravato, will cost $590 for a 56 mg dose. However, they add, insurance coverage is anticipated.