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Last Updated: 11/15/2022
Bahji et al (2022)12 conducted a meta-analysis of 36 randomized controlled trials (RCTs, parallel and crossover designs), spanning from 2000 through 2021, in adults with unipolar or bipolar depression with the primary objective of analyzing the efficacy and safety of racemic ketamine and esketamine. The 36 RCTs included different routes of administration for both ketamine and esketamine, of which nine involved esketamine while the rest involved racemic ketamine. All studies used DSM criteria and most involved patients with MDD (n=33); 3 studies involved patients with bipolar depression. Most of these studies were focused on TRD (n=28). Subgroup analyses were also performed, which included an analysis by route of administration (IV vs. IN).
Overall, the pooled data for ketamine and esketamine was associated with an improved end-of-treatment response (RR=2.14; 95% CI, 1.72-2.66), remission (RR=1.64; 95% CI, 1.33-2.02), and depression severity (d = -0.63; 95% CI, -0.80 to -0.45) against placebo. An overall analysis using random-effects models showed ketamine as having a significant improvement over esketamine in treatment response rates (RR=3.01 vs 1.20); however, all other subgroup analyses, including route of administration (IV vs. IN), were not significant due to a lack of sufficient number of studies per subgroup. Similar trends were observed for the overall analyses and subgroup analyses for remission and depression severity, with no significant differences seen when comparing IV vs IN routes. Regarding safety, the odds of experiencing an adverse event with either ketamine or esketamine was twice that of placebo (OR=2.14; 95% CI, 0.82-5.60). There was no association between treatment with any form of ketamine/esketamine and retention in treatment (RR=1.00; 95% CI, 0.99-1.01) or dropouts due to adverse events (RR=1.56; 95% CI, 1.00-2.45).
The authors acknowledged important limitations to the meta-analysis, one of which was the high heterogeneity among studies, including differences in study design, sample sizes, population and demographics, and study implementation. In addition, negative studies may not have been identified and included as part of the meta-analysis, which may have inflated the effect sizes for response and remission.
Nikayin et al (2022)12 conducted a comparative retrospective study for all Yale Interventional Psychiatric Service (IPS) patients (n=210) receiving 0.5 mg/kg IV ketamine over 40 min (n=129, 61.4%) or 56 mg or 84 mg SPRAVATO (n=81, 38.6%) between September 2016 and April 2021. Baseline demographics were balanced between groups. Adults with a major depressive episode receiving acute treatment (multiple treatments each ≤7 days apart for up to 8 total treatments) were included in the study.
With respect to the primary endpoint, no significant difference was found between the treatment groups with an estimated group difference in MADRS by treatment end of 2.15 (95% CI, -0.06 to 4.37; P=0.06). However, differences in secondary endpoints for Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self-Report (QIDS-SR) scores after 8 treatment sessions, and MADRS and QIDS-SR scores after the first 6 treatments were 1.59 (95% CI, 0.24-2.94; P=0.02), 2.49 (95% CI, 0.01-4.98; P<0.05) and 1.64 (95% CI, 0.08-3.19; P=0.04), respectively, and were all in favor of IV ketamine. There were no differences in response (ketamine, 37.8% vs. SPRAVATO, 36.0%) or remission (29.6% vs. 24.0%, respectively) rates. A subgroup analysis showed no differences between IV ketamine and SPRAVATO based on mean suicidal ideation scores from the MADRS item 10 and QIDS-SR item 12.
The authors stated that these findings should be interpreted with caution given the study limitations, which included patient demographics perhaps not being representative of the general population given the accessibility issues with these treatments and the nonrandomized, unblinded retrospective nature of the analysis.
A literature search of MEDLINE®, EMBASE®, BIOSIS Previews®, DERWENT® (and/or other resources, including internal/external databases) pertaining to this topic was conducted on 9 June 2022. An independent abstract was also published on the subject and is referenced below.24
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|2||Fedgchin M, Trivedi M, Daly E, et al. Efficacy and safety of fixed-dose esketamine nasal spray combined with a new oral antidepressant in treatment-resistant depression: results of a randomized, double-blind, active-controlled study (TRANSFORM-1). Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2019;22(10):616-630.|
|3||Ochs-Ross R, Daly EJ, Zhang Y, et al. Efficacy and safety of esketamine nasal spray plus an oral antidepressant in elderly patients with treatment-resistant depression - TRANSFORM-3. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. 2020;28(2):121-141.|
|4||Popova V, Daly EJ, Trivedi M, et al. Efficacy and safety of flexibly dosed esketamine nasal spray combined with a newly initiated oral antidepressant in treatment-resistant depression: a randomized double-blind active-controlled study. Am J Psychiatry. 2019;176(6):428-438.|
|5||Wajs E, Aluisio L, Holder R, et al. Esketamine nasal spray plus oral antidepressant in patients with treatment-resistant depression: assessment of long-term safety in a phase 3, open-label study (SUSTAIN-2). J Clin Psychiatry. 2020;81(3):19m12891.|
|6||Fu DJ, Ionescu DF, Li X, et al. Esketamine nasal spray for rapid reduction of major depressive disorder symptoms in patients who have active suicidal ideation with intent: double-blind, randomized study (ASPIRE I). J Clin Psychiatry. 2020;81(3):19m13191.|
|7||Ionescu DF, Fu DJ, Qiu X, et al. Esketamine nasal spray for rapid reduction of depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder who have active suicide ideation with intent: results of a phase 3, double-blind, randomized study (ASPIRE II). Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2021;24(1):22-31.|
|8||U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda/. Accessed August 08, 2022.|
|9||Sanacora G, Frye MA, McDonald W, et al. A consensus statement on the use of ketamine in the treatment of mood disorders [published online March 1, 2017]. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(4):399-405. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0080.|
|10||Food and Drug Administration. FDA alerts health care professionals of potential risks associated with compounded ketamine nasal spray. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/human-drug-compounding/fda-alerts-health-care-professionals-potential-risks-associated-compounded-ketamine-nasal-spray. Accessed 24 February 2022.|
|11||Bahji A, Zarate CA, Vazques GH. Efficacy and safety of racemic ketamine and esketamine for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. [pubished online ahead of print March 9, 2022]. Expert Opin Drug Saf. doi:10.1080/14740338.2022.2047928.|
|12||Nikayin S, Rhee TG, Cunninham ME, et al. Evaluation of the trajectory of depression severity with ketamine and esketamine treatment in a clinical setting. JAMA Psychiatry. 2022;79(7):736-738.|
|13||Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division. Available at: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/1999/fr0713.htm. Accessed March 4, 2020.|
|14||Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Other Review. NDA 211243 - SPRAVATO (esketamine) - Reference ID: 4398871. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2019/211243Orig1s000OtherR.pdf. Published July 5, 2019. Accessed March 22, 2022.|
|15||SPRAVATO® REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) Website. Available at: https://www.spravatorems.com/.|
|16||Sanacora G, Zarate CA, Krystal JH, et al. Targeting the glutamatergic system to develop novel, improved therapeutics for mood disorders. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2008;7(5):426-437.|
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|18||Duman RS, Aghajanian GK, Sanacora G, et al. Synaptic plasticity and depression: new insights from stress and rapid-acting antidepressants. Nat Med. 2016;22(3):238-249.|
|19||Kim J, Farchione T, Potter A, et al. Esketamine for treatment-resistant depression - first FDA-approved antidepressant in a new class. N Eng J Med. 2019;381(1):1-4.|
|20||Zanos P Gould TD. Mechanisms of ketamine action as an antidepressant. Mol Psychiatry. 2018;23:801-811.|
|21||Kapur S, Seeman P. NMDA receptor antagonists ketamine and PCP have direct effects on the dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT2 receptors - implications for models of schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry. 2002;7:837-844.|
|22||Moaddel R, Abdrakhmanova G, Kozak J, et al. Sub-anesthetic concentrations of (R, S)-ketamine metabolites inhibit acetylcholine-evoked currents in alpha-7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Eur J Pharmacol. 2013;698(1-3):228-234.|
|23||Ebert B, Mikkelsen S, Thorkildsen C, et al. Norketamine, the main metabolite of ketamine, is a non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist in the rat cortex and spinal cord. Eur J Pharmacol. 1997;333:99-104.|
|24||Singh B, Kung S, Schak KM, et al. Comparative effectiveness of intravenous ketamine and intranasal esketamine in real-world setting among patients with treatment refractory depression. CNS Spectr. 2022;27(2, Abstract):232.|