Amid Ongoing Debate over the Mental Illness, Johnson & Johnson’s Nasal Spray ‘SPRAVATO’ get approval as an antidepressant drug for “People With Suicidal Thoughts”

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 Social isolation, fear of contamination, anxiety, uncertainty, chronic strain, and financial difficulties may lead to the development or exacerbation of depression, substance use, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other psychiatric disorders in vulnerable communities including people with pre-existing mental illness or psychiatric disorders and people who live in areas with a high prevalence of COVID-19.

While COVID-19 has brought a lot of new sources of stress, it has eliminated many resources that people have traditionally used to deal with stress. Millions of people are unemployed. Some people have lost their businesses or apartments. Thus, social isolation contributes to the pathophysiology of mental illness and suicidal behavior.

The tragic death of Sushant Singh Rajput, a Bollywood actor who allegedly committed suicide, shocked the entire country. This unfortunate incident not only shocked the entire country but also triggered a debate over mental illness.

The death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput by suicide has raised concerns about mental health and its deterioration, which leads to extremely challenging living conditions and probably become life-threatening. 

Param Bir Singh, Mumbai Police Commissioner, while addressing a press conference stated that a 34-year-old late actor searched the terms like bipolar disorder, painless death, schizophrenia on the internet a few hours before his death. 

Depression is the foremost cause of disability globally, and the most common disease often associated with suicide.

Since the death of Sushant Singh Rajput (SSR) on June 14, the Internet has been flooded with discussions about anxiety, depression, and several other pivotal issues related to mental illness, that would otherwise have been overlooked by the public.

Recently, not only SSR, a teenager, and 18-year-old TikTok stars also committed suicide. One of them was supposed to be depressed and frustrated with the ban on video production platforms. Moreover, Kannada television actor Susheel Gowda also committed suicide in his hometown Mandya. Vijaya Lakshmi, a Tamil actor, recently committed suicide due to online harassment and subsequently hospitalized in a hospital in Chennai.

Similarly, in the United States, there has also been a debate over the mental health conditions amid coronavirus pandemic and the mandatory lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Earlier last month, the American rapper, Kanye West, burst into tears when he talked about his past struggles with bipolar disorder.

Now, amid these debates over mental illness, Johnson & Johnson company has launched the first anti-depressant nasal spray for people with suicidal thoughts.

According to a Bloomberg report, Johnson & Johnson’s nasal spray “Spravato” has also got approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration means that people with suicidal thoughts will be able to use quick-acting nasal sprays-that constitutes or accounting for 11% to 12% of up to 17 million Americans with the critical depressive disorder and plan to place them into action, Michelle Kramer, Vice President of Johnson & Johnson’s American neuroscience medical affairs unit, quoted by Bloomberg report.

Kramer further stated that since its approval in 2019, Spravato, a nasal spray, has been used by approximately 6,000 people to treat depression problems. Of course, we will see more and more sites to register, and more patients being treated.

In the study done by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, it found that those people who used the Spravato had an accelerated decrease in the severity of their thinking, although the results were not statistically different from those patients who received a placebo.

According to the Bloomberg report, the data from the drug research shows that it can provide clinicians with a new method to quickly support patients during an emergency depressive episode and help them on the path to relief and remission, Gerard Sanacora, director of Yale’s depression research program and experimental investigator.

What is Spravato?

Spravato is a close chemical cousin of narcotic ketamine and is different from existing antidepressants because it acts more on the glutamate system of the brain instead of norepinephrine or serotonin. 

Investigators and Scientists have been working to better comprehend how this medicine helps patients and why it works so speedily. The approval of the drug last year marked the first significant breakthrough for depression since 1987.

According to Bloomberg’s report, President Donald Trump has since trumpeted the drug as having the potential antidote to curb suicides among veterans, but the Veterans Affairs Medical Team has only approved the use of the drug on a limited basis.

Even before the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, the United States has been suffering from the suicide crisis. From 1999 to 2016, the suicide rate increased by 30%. The Covid-19 lockdown limited the number of people given the spray as a depression treatment in-person at the designated centers.

However, in the end, though the numbers improved as patients and centers adapted, as well as the mental health community’s concerns grew, that physical distancing and social isolation of quarantine may enhance people’s existing problems or introduce new problems.

Subsequently, it was reported that in India, some die-hard fans of Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide after the actor’s sudden death. Since then, many suicidal cases have been reported across the country due to certain depression issues.

Studies have shown that instead of fear of coronavirus or contagion, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased mental illness problems like anxiety, distress, insomnia, and depression among the general population, and medical personnel.

The COVID-19 crisis has been increasing suicide rates during and after the pandemic. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on mental health (including suicidal behavior) is likely to last a long time, and peak later than the actual pandemic.

Mental illnesses related to stress, including mood swings, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders, are related to suicidal behavior. Survivors of COVID-19 have also been at higher risk of suicide. Because disrupted routine work and the possibility of life-threatening illnesses can worsen pre-existing problems such as mental illness or drug abuse.

Therefore, SPRAVATO® is the first and only approved drug that has been proven to reduce depressive symptoms within 24 hours, providing a new option for major symptom relief before the long-term, the comprehensive treatment plan may take effects.

We hope that this nasal spray will play a game-changer role in decreasing depression; suicidal thoughts and feelings which ultimately reduce suicide cases.

 

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