Ketamine is a phencyclidine derivative, first used in humans in 1964 as a potential anesthetic medication. You can learn more about Ketamine at Complete Ketamine Solutions’ new Ketamine clinic in Phoenix. The FDA approved it in 1970 for the following indications:

  • As the sole anesthetic agent for surgical and diagnostic procedures that don’t need skeletal muscle relaxation
  • For the induction of anesthesia before the administration of other general anesthetic agents
  • To supplement low-potency agents like nitrous oxide

Since then, Ketamine has been used in operating and emergency rooms and is covered by insurance companies for these purposes only. 

The first randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study on Ketamine treating depression was published in February 2000. According to this study, Ketamine had significant anti-depressant effects in a small group of patients with depression. More studies were conducted, and in 2012, several researchers called Ketamine one of the largest breakthroughs in depression research. Further studies continued to show that Ketamine infusions could reduce depression symptoms in a few hours to days and be effective in almost 60-80% of the patients. 

Benefits of Ketamine Infusions

Below are some of the benefits of Ketamine infusions in patients with depression:

  • A stable state of mind when remembering traumatic events
  • A feeling of freedom from being overburdened by past events 
  • Letting go of obsessive thoughts
  • Considerable increase in energy and mental acuity
  • Decrease in frustration and anger
  • Considerable reduction in inflammation levels from the first infusion

Despite the research and many benefits, Ketamine as a treatment for depression is not covered by insurance companies.

Why Is Ketamine Not Covered by Insurance?

Below are some of the reasons why insurance companies do not cover Ketamine as a treatment for depression:

Ketamine is not FDA Approved.

Ketamine has been approved by the FDA only to be used as an analgesic and anesthetic in operation rooms and emergency departments. The FDA has not approved the use of Ketamine to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression. As such, the medicine is considered an off-label medication for these conditions. To get FDA approval for the medication, researchers need to conduct random and controlled trials on many people with a long-term follow-up to prove that the drug can help treat the above mentioned conditions. This FDA approval process can cost billions of dollars. And since no companies have conducted such trials on Ketamine, it is yet to get FDA approval and hence cannot be accepted by insurance companies.

Most People Are Unaware of Ketamine 

Many people have not heard of Ketamine as a medication. Even if they have, they remember it as a veterinary medication or a recreational drug. Like other people, most insurance companies are also unaware of Ketamine being used to treat depression in outpatient clinics. In fact, many nurses and doctors may also be unaware of the use of Ketamine for depression. The lack of education about this drug makes insurance companies wary of including it in their coverages as well. And since this drug is generic, there is no incentive to add it to the list of medicines covered by insurance.

The Drug is Considered Investigational and Experimental

Several studies on the efficacy of Ketamine in treating mood disorders and depression are still going on. Since Ketamine therapy is a new treatment, most of these studies are small-scale with very few subjects. Though the meta-analysis and systematic review of the medication show its effectiveness in treating depression, the evidence is insufficient for insurance companies to include it in the list of insured medicines. Most insurance companies state that middle and long-term studies have not proved IV Ketamine therapy to be a treatment for depression. Conducting long terms studies is not possible due to the lack of funds. Insurance companies will not want to cover any medicine that could be potentially hazardous and lacks long-term evidence to back it up. They will also look for recommendations and guidelines from a group of physicians before agreeing to include any medication on their list. Though some doctors know about it, Ketamine is not recommended by a large group of doctors and mental health providers to treat depression. As a result, insurance companies don’t cover this drug.

Though Ketamine is not covered by insurance, many clinics offer the medication to patients suffering from depression and other mental health disorders. If you want to take Ketamine therapy for your depression, you can visit Complete Ketamine Solutions of Phoenix. They offer Ketamine infusions to treat depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and chronic inflammation.

By Manali