Global experts discuss use of ketamine for mental disorders
International experts will convene in Oxford this week to debate the use of ketamine for a range of mental health problems, including depression, suicidal thoughts, anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Ketamine and Related Compounds International Hybrid Conference, which runs over three days, will include debates and lectures from researchers from around the world and is chaired by Rupert McShane, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford.
Ketamine is a quick acting and powerful sedative which is already approved for use as an anaesthetic. But in recent year researchers around the world have built an increasingly compelling case for its wider use in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Its derivative esketamine is licensed for resistant depression in the form of a nasal spray. By coincidence, NICE, which has previously rejected it for NHS use, is due to discuss this again on 7 April. Just days beforehand, delegates will debate the motion ‘This house believes that there is sufficient evidence for the wide prescription of ketamine for treatment resistant depression’.
Professor McShane said: “This class of drugs will find a place in the treatment of depression, and probably other related conditions too. New trials are being published every week. New drugs which lack the psychedelic effect of ketamine are in the pipeline. Brief psychotherapy probably consolidates the benefit.
“Ketamine itself is very cheap, but because it does not have a licence for depression, NICE cannot consider it. Consequently there is no support for, or restrictions on its NHS use. Historically, potent psychiatric drugs tend to be overused, but stigma and fear can also lead to underuse. Getting the balance right is tricky.”
Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of SANE, said: “Sadly, we still rely on medications discovered over 30 years ago. In recent years there has been a dearth of innovation in this field, leaving us with few weapons in our armoury against the most debilitating mental illnesses.
“We hear daily from people with depression and other conditions for whom current treatments have not been helpful, with too many left on repeat prescriptions for drugs that may be having minimal benefit as well as unpleasant side-effects.
“Patients and their families are crying out for new treatments and therapies. The possibility of a new medication that could ease people’s suffering offers much-needed hope.”
Ketamine Conference 2022 – April 4-6 Conference
Confirmed speakers at the event include:
Chadi Abdallah (Baylor) – Ketamine for PTSD: results of large veterans RCT. How does ketamine affect the connectome?
Roger McIntyre (Toronto) – Long term treatment with ketamine – real world evidence
Pouya Movahed Rad (Lund) – Ketamine vs ECT: results of a 1y RCT in resistant depression
Emma Robinson (Bristol) – How ketamine turns the glass from half empty to half full: effect on negative affective bias
David Monks (WUSTL) – Subcutaneous and IV ketamine prophylaxis of postpartum depression: results of pilot RCT post caesarean
Paul Glue (Otago) – Controlled release oral ketamine – results of phase 2 dose finding RCT
Rebecca Price (Pittsburgh) – A brief, fully automated neurocognitive training intervention extends the antidepressant effect of a single ketamine infusion
Robert Schoevers (Groningen) – Oral ketamine 30mg thrice daily: results of RCT for depression
Alison McInnes (Osmind) – Long term follow-up in large ketamine infusion programme
Jeffrey Becker (Bexon) – Subcutaneous delivery system for ketamine – preclinical data
Jason Wallach (Bexson, Uni of Sciences) – Pharmacology and toxicology of novel glutamate antagonists
Lori Calabrese (Innovative Psychiatry) – Sequenced ketogenic diet and ketamine infusions for chronic anorexia: a pilot study
David Barbic (Vancouver) – Agitation in the ER: an RCT of ketamine vs midazolam
Rodrigo Machado-Vieira – (Uni Texas) Kynurenine pathway and biomarkers of response
Terry Kelly (Perception) – R-ketamine: phase 1 results
Polymnia Georgiou (Uni Maryland) – Ketamine metabolites. Effect of negative allosteric modulators of GABA-A on anhedonia
Gisèle Pickering (Clermont-Ferrand) – Ketamine for pain and depression : from randomised clinical trials to real life evidence
Fabrice Jollant (Montpellier) – Two IV infusions induce abrupt remission of severe suicidal ideation: Results from a French multicenter RCT (KETIS)
Joshua Rosenblatt (Toronto) – Do all types of depression respond similarly? Real-world data on complex patient subgroups
Gerard Sanacora (Yale) – 13 lessons learned from two decades of ketamine research