Severe acute depression is not a cold – and yet it can now be alleviated with a nasal spray with rapid onset of action. The Department of Mental Health in Spandau, headed by Chief Physician Prof. Dr. Stephanie Krüger, played a key role in the study that made the approval possible. This is the first approval of such a drug in Europe.
In addition to the Vivantes Department of Mental Health, three clinics across Germany were involved in the international multi-center clinical trial, which was conducted between 2017 and 2019.
The nasal spray, called Spravato, is based on the active ingredient esketamine, which has anesthetic and analgesic properties. In its modified form as an antidepressant, it significantly reduces depressive symptoms within 24 hours. This is significantly faster than with tablets, which take at least 14 days for patients' health to improve. This is due to a different biochemical mechanism of action, and the spray is also absorbed directly into the blood via the nasal mucous membranes. In addition, the study showed that mental stability under medication with the spray lasts longer than with conventional antidepressant therapy.
Prof. Dr. Stephanie Krüger, Chief Physician of the Department of Mental Health at Vivantes Hospital Spandau: "The approval of the nasal spray is a breakthrough in the treatment of people with severe, acute depression, which is a psychiatric emergency. I am pleased that we were able to actively participate in the study due to our specialization in the field of depression. Especially in depressive emergency situations where immediate treatment is needed, we now have the opportunity to help our patients faster than before, paving the way for specific psychotherapeutic treatments."