According to a recent Washington Post article, the FDA is increasing scrutiny of the drug ketamine for mental health treatment after the death of actor Matthew Perry. His autopsy revealed a high dose of ketamine as the cause, drawing attention to the darker side of the drug. Ketamine, used in hospitals for anesthesia and recreationally as a club drug, has shown promise in treating depression. While the agency approved the nasal spray Spravato in 2019, some seek alternative, legal but non-FDA-approved ways to access the drug.
The rapid expansion of ketamine outside healthcare settings has sparked debate about its safety. Despite concerns, excitement about ketamine's potential in treating mental health disorders persists, with venture companies investing in telehealth ketamine firms. The debate over using ketamine at home intensified during the pandemic, and the DEA proposed rules governing telehealth prescriptions of controlled substances. Some argue that ketamine should be excluded from telehealth rules due to safety risks, while pharmaceutical firms aim to develop safer ketamine derivatives endorsed by the FDA for home use.