The death of actor Matthew Perry from ketamine in October has sparked new concerns and focused attention on the drug’s unapproved uses.
Ketamine is used as an anesthetic in hospitals, where it has a long history of safe use. It has also been abused as a recreational drug. More recently, it has shown promise as an alternative treatment for unusually difficult cases of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Although it is not FDA-approved for psychiatric illnesses, doctors can legally prescribe it as an off-label treatment.
Meanwhile, a pandemic-era waiver allows doctors to prescribe ketamine via telemedicine without an in-person exam. Some patients receive ketamine in the presence of a physician in a clinic or at home, and some use it unsupervised at home.
Perry struggled with alcohol and drug addiction throughout his adult life. He spoke openly about his struggles, detailing his dozens of treatment stays and the deep toll his addiction took on his health.
Perry, 54, was receiving ketamine injections legally from a clinic to treat depression. However, an autopsy revealed that the ketamine found in his body after his death on October 28 could not have been from his most recent known treatment because, according to The New York Times, which reviewed the autopsy report, there was too much Much time had passed.
While the Los Angeles Medical Examiner ruled that the primary cause of accidental drowning in the hot tub was ketamine, other contributors included heart disease and buprenorphine, which is commonly used to treat opioid addiction and sometimes as a pain reliever. is done. According to the medical examiner, ketamine may have accelerated his heart rate while slowing his breathing.
The FDA published a warning about ketamine in October, several weeks before Perry’s death, citing risks of abuse, including increased blood pressure and bladder problems, and using it at home without the presence of a health care provider. Was.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration was already working on new rules that would limit the use of telemedicine to prescribe drugs, including ketamine.
Deaths like Perry’s are considered rare. Nevertheless, it has given rise to new discussion and concern. The American Society of Ketamine Physicians, Psychotherapists and Practitioners called the star’s death a warning to ketamine practitioners and the broader medical community to put in place clear and unified guardrails guided by real-world data and the drug, the Washington Post reports. . The nonprofit group said it would create guidelines for ketamine use at home.
According to MedPage Today, psychiatrist Drew Ramsey of Spruce Mental Health in Jackson, Wyoming, wrote on social media: In clinical settings, ketamine is known for its safety profile. This does not mean that it is safe. Ramsey also cited celebrity, substance abuse disorders, character pathology, psychedelic medication, and concierge therapy as possible factors in Perry’s death.
Mira Pharmaceuticals chief scientific officer Adam Kaplin, quoted by The Washington Post, believes ketamine has great potential to help people suffering from mental illnesses, adding that Perry’s death suggests there may be a need to provide patients with access to it at home. It is a very dangerous practice to do.
Additionally, various start-ups are working to increase access to ketamine for people with depression and other difficult-to-treat mental illnesses.
One point of controversy centers on those who believe the drug should be used only in the presence of a trained physician, and others who say the treatment would be inaccessible to many patients if they were not allowed to use it at home. Yes, according to the post.
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