I was just reading an article about a new drug that is now being used to treat depression. I thought to myself, “Oh no, some drug company has found another way to make a bunch of money by not resolving the problem.” Then I found out the drug that was being used and I almost spit my coffee all over my computer screen.
The drug that is being used is ketamine and will be marketed as Esketamine. It gained a “fast track” approval by the FDA and will be used as an intranasal drug for the symptoms of depression. Let me tell you a little history of ketamine. Veterinarians have been routinely using ketamine for many years. It is a scheduled narcotic (regulated by the federal government) and it is also a dissociative anesthetic. Clinically speaking, this means that it can be used as a short-acting anesthetic.
In veterinary clinics all over the country, we were using it for short surgical procedures like neutering a cat, suturing a wound, flushing ears or putting an iv into an uncooperative patient. It was pretty simple; mix a little injectable analgesic into the ketamine, give it IV to the patient and bingo, you have about 20 minutes of anesthetic time. The other thing that was noted about the drug was that it seemed to be very safe, even in cats, who are known to be incredibly sensitive to drugs. Not that any studies were done, it just appeared that way.
The human clinicians jumped on the bandwagon as well and because of its safety, it was commonly used as an induction anesthetic for children. Then, one day, some caring physician noticed that many of the children, while recovering from the drug, displayed psychological disturbances and later described horrible nightmares. In time, because of this side effect, the popularity of ketamine wore off. We seemed to have forgotten that ketamine was a narcotic with hallucinogenic properties.
When people became aware of the psychological effects of ketamine, the druggies put a target on vet clinics. Vet clinics throughout the land were being burglarized with ketamine as their target. The street name for ketamine is Special K.
Now that you know a bit about ketamine, let’s change our focus to the pharmaceutical industry. We will start by looking at their primary intent; making money. If you think that this industry is about healing people and pets, I have some swamp land in Florida I am ready to sell you.
Most people don’t know how our conventional approach to medicine began. It was the mindset of one person. His name was John D. Rockefeller. Yep, the founder of Standard Oil Company and the biggest of the biggest robber barons in the US at the turn of the 20th century. John D. always thought big. He sold kerosene, so he lit up people’s home with kerosene lamps. Then, he lit up the streets with kerosene lamps. It wasn’t long until his petroleum products were in just about everything. This is still true today. You can’t buy a pair of Levi jeans that doesn’t have some petroleum in it. This is why the petroleum industry is still the largest industry in the US. Just ahead of the pharmaceutical industry. Yipes.
Old John D. decided he wanted to tap into the medical business. Everyone got sick and he wanted part of that action. He threw his money and political power around and created prescription drugs. He called them “patented medicine.” His idea, along with a couple of other robber barons, like Andrew Carnegie, decided that if you got sick, you would have to buy pills that had their petroleum carrier in them. Yep, drugs with a petroleum base in them.
They didn’t stop there. At the time, health care was performed in many ways, including traditional modalities like herbs, etc. Rockefeller and his buddies changed the way of thinking about health care. See the body as a biochemical machine and if it breaks down, use biochemistry (drugs) to fix it. They pressured the legislators to outlaw using any natural methods for health care, claiming that they were not scientifically proven. They then opened the first medical schools that taught their philosophy of the body as a biochemical instrument that needed biochemistry (drugs) to repair when it was sick. The rest is history. Did you notice at anytime during this discussion that there was anything mentioned about healing patients? Nope. That wasn’t their intent.
I have been using this approach to health care for many years. Why? Because it is still the approach to health care in the west. It hasn’t changed and it will be for a long time before it does. Why? Remember me mentioning that the pharmaceutical business was the second largest industry in the US? Enough said.
Over the past 40 years I have learned a lot about drugs and a whole lot about the pharmaceutical industry. They are sort of like a bunch of ambulance chasing lawyers looking to pounce on a problem. Nothing energizes the pharmaceutical industry like an enormous health problem, especially if it is new. They know that the first company that comes out with a drug that treats the new problem is going to make bundles and bundles. Even if the drug later is determined ineffective or has harmful side effects, by then, the company has made enormous profits.
One of their clever approaches is being open-minded about side effects. They have learned that they can often capitalize on them. Cushing’s disease is a metabolic disease that is common in dogs. For many years, the drug Lysodren, was used to treat the disease. Lysodren was a scary drug because many dogs died while on the medication. I always wondered why we used a drug that could kill the dog for a disease that never killed the dog. Hmmm?
A large veterinary drug company came out with a new drug called Anipryl. This giant drug company told the veterinarians that the drug was 90% effective for Cushing’s disease and had no harmful side effects. Every vet in the country jumped on board and started treating their Cushing’s dogs with the new drug.
It was no surprise to me when reports started coming in that the drug was not working. Come to find out, the company had gotten a temporary approval (fast track approval) from the FDA with little actual testing done. The dogs we were treating with the new drug were their guinea pigs. It was later determined that the drug was only beneficial to about 10% of the dogs with Cushing’s disease. I forgot to mention how horribly expensive the drug was. The drug was taken off the market, but the company wasn’t finished with their shenanigans.
One of the side effects of Anipryl was that the dogs had a psychological effect while they were on the medication. The drug company decided that the drug, with its psychological effects, might be beneficial to dogs with psychological disorders, so the relabeled the drug and are now selling it for doggy dementia. “When you are given lemons, make lemonade.”
Now, the pharmaceutical companies are knee deep in treating depression, an enormous illness that we have here in the US. Does that surprise you? Hopefully, not now. One company has decided that the hallucinogenic effects of ketamine is going to help fight depression. Squirt a little ketamine up the nostril, go on a temporary high and forget about your woes. Forget that the FDA has already stated, “Esketamine distribution will be tightly controlled due to the potential for abuse, suicidal thoughts and sedation along with possible problems with attention, judgment and thinking.”
What about the fact that it is a scheduled narcotic? We can get around that. It can only be given by a licensed physician. That should do it. Not. An estimated 10 million people became addicted to Valium for the same reason and it was a prescription-only drug. How about Oxycotin? How many millions of people became addicted to that narcotic while physicians were prescribing it like candy.
No drugs, narcotics or otherwise, will heal a patient from depression. No drug will every heal anything because there was never an intent to heal. Want a quick elimination of some symptoms, call the doctor and he will give you or your pet a drug. Want to be healed? Better look a different direction, away from the pharmaceutically-led mindset.