Revolutionary drug could bring hope to depression patients in Beckley

Raleigh County
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 A local psychiatrist said a new drug could give hope to his patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression. 

Esketamine is the first new kind of depression drug since Prozac hit the market in the late 1980’s. Dr. Hassan Jafary at Beckley Psychiatric Services calls it a revolution in psychiatric medicine.

“You’ll feel like your depression is almost gone,” said Jafary.

The FDA approved spravato, the brand name for esketamine in early March. 

The esketamine nasal spray is designed for use against treatment-resistant depression. While other anti-depressants take weeks to start working, spravato can pull people out of a severely-depressed state in a matter of hours. 

Jafary is the only approved provider in southern West Virginia. He said the drug could make a huge difference in some of his patient’s lives. 

“They are still not feeling good, they are resistant to medication…most of the people who are depressed take more than one medication to get better and they’re still not feeling better,” said Jafary. “By taking this medication they will feel better fast and they can still continue taking their regular medications.”

Spravato is a schedule three drug carefully regulated by the FDA. Patients must take it under doctors’ supervision at their practice, where they are monitored for the next two hours.

Jafary said once a patient is approved, they will be prescribed two doses a week for a month and then see if they need to continue treatment. He said because it works so quickly, it has the potential to help lower suicide rates and reduce hospital stays. 

“This medication long term will save a lot of money to the state and government because the hospital visit will go down,” Jafary said. “They even tried it on some of the patients who were suicidal in the emergency rooms and the patients did not feel suicidal after two hours.”

Jafary said he will begin considering patients the first week of May. He said he hopes to eventually see the drug used in veteran medical centers and mental hospitals.

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