VA uses ketamine to treat PTSD effectively

As ketamine gains momentum in the treatment of depression, even the federal government is buying into the concept.

As ketamine gains momentum in the treatment of depression, even the federal government is buying into the concept. A 2-year-old program at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center offers ketamine infusions to military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression but have not responded to first, second, and third lines of treatment. Tobias Marton, who runs the center's ketamine infusion program, says results with the drug—which is approved only as an anesthetic and pain reliever—have been "impressive." Cautious uptake of the treatment by VA comes nearly 2 decades after ketamine first emerged as a potential option for treating mental health disorders. According to Marton, efforts are underway to shift the therapy from off-label status to a sanctioned use. He says a company is working toward FDA approval of an intranasal ketamine product, with a decision from the regulator expected around March of next year. If it gets a stamp of approval, Marton says other VA clinics in rural communities would likely start offering ketamine treatments, too.