FDA Warning and Matthew Perry’s Death Darken Ketamine’s Glow

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From The Washington Post: “Federal health authorities are intensifying their scrutiny of the drug ketamine for treating mental health disorders, as the mind-altering compound grows in popularity despite the lack of regulatory approval for such use.

The Food and Drug Administration warned in October about the risks of using pharmacy-made ketamine at home, citing the case of one patient whose breathing slowed to a dangerous level after taking a large dose outside of a health-care facility. Then the autopsy of actor Matthew Perry, released Dec. 15, concluded a high dose of ketamine led to his death in October — an event that, while rare, drove home the dark side of the anesthetic that can also be abused recreationally.

These knocks come as the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to craft a rule that would set new limits on how health-care professionals can use telemedicine to prescribe tightly regulated drugs like ketamine.

. . . In March, the DEA proposed a rule to govern how health-care professionals use telehealth to prescribe controlled substances — drugs considered to have varying degrees of potential for abuse. For drugs in ketamine’s classification, a doctor could prescribe a 30-day supply through a telehealth visit but a patient would need to be evaluated in person after that for the treatment to continue.

That prompted an avalanche of pushback from patients and providers who’ve come to rely on telehealth for controlled medications ranging from Adderall to benzodiazepines. Many said ketamine has been lifesaving for them. The DEA received more than 38,000 comments on its proposed telemedicine rule and a related rule for buprenorphine.

‘We believe that is among the highest number of comments we have gotten in DEA’s history,’ Anne Milgram, the agency’s administrator, said at a listening session in September.”

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