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Ketamine Treatment Philadelphia

History of Ketamine

Ketamine was first synthesized as a fast-acting anesthetic drug in 1962 at the Parke David Laboratories.  It was patented for both animal and human use in 1966, and formally approved for human use by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1970.  Soon after, soldiers in the Vietnam War used it as a field anesthetic, and doctors used it in surgeries and emergency rooms around the world.  Because ketamine is also a fast-acting analgesic, a painkiller, it was and is used for burn patients and other trauma victims.

Illicit use of ketamine developed along with the expanding medical usage over the next three decades.  In 1999, issues with ketamine went two different directions.  The United States Drug Enforcement Agency classified ketamine as a Schedule III controlled substance due to increasing abuse of ketamine.  Also in 1999, researchers at Yale University stumbled on ketamine’s promising mood stabilizing properties.  Their findings were published in Biological Psychology (2000), but dismissed by the larger medical community for several more years, partially because the rapid reversal of depression symptoms found in the study was completely antithetical to mainstream understanding of depression and its treatments.  

In 2006, Dr. Charney, who had been one of the Yale researchers in the first published study, began a new study with 17 patients at the National Institute of Health attempting to replicate the earlier published results.  His results saw 70% of the study participants going into remission within 24 hours of an application of ketamine therapy.  In the following years, research has continued around the world, consistently duplicating early results. 

Ketamine therapy for depression is considered an off-label use of the drug and is likely to stay that way.  The patent on ketamine has run out, so generic versions of the drug are inexpensive and available.  The type of testing the FDA requires for approval of new uses for drugs is extensive and expensive.  With no potential for financial gain, there is little motivation for pharmaceutical companies to fund the large-scale studies needed to achieve FDA approval.  However, the new information provided by these ketamine studies has inspired research into an entirely new category of drugs, requiring a fresh understanding of how depression works on the brain.

Ketamine therapy, administered by qualified medical professionals, is now helping patients with various types of severe depression, PTSD, OCD, Fibromyalgia, and more to rapidly experience relief of physical symptoms, improving both mood and function – and producing hope.

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