Debate will intensify over the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression
Ketamine, an anesthetic long known as a psychedelic and addictive street drug, has shown efficacy in treating individuals with depression that does not respond to standard treatments. In fact, certain academic medical centers offer ketamine infusions to patients with severe depression, and pharmaceutical companies are working on developing antidepressants inspired by the drug.1 Yet, while ketamine offers promise of a significant breakthrough in solving treatment-resistant depression, it remains a challenge for clinicians who are wary of the potential for abuse and dependence.2
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The FDA will render a decision on an investigational opioid system modulator
In November 2018, the FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee voted overwhelmingly that the benefit-risk profile for ALK 5461, an investigational opioid system modulator designed to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), does not warrant approval. Although the FDA is not required to follow the committee’s recommendation, it generally does. A decision is expected by January 31, 2019.
The FDA will render a decision on a first-in-class molecule for the treatment of schizophrenia
Lumateperone, a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist for schizophrenia, is set to undergo FDA review. Data from 20 trials involving more than 1900 patients were submitted in the New Drug Application. The drug and its follow-up compounds are also being evaluated for MDD, bipolar disorder, autism, and behavioral disturbances associated with dementia.
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The tech world will play an increasing role in mental health care
Apps such as Talkspace offer an alternative for patients who are unwilling or unable to seek in-person talk therapy. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots such as Woebot have emerged as talk therapy substitutes.3 These alternative therapies will not supplant traditional talk therapy but will likely serve an increasing role for a specific subset of individuals with mood disorders.
AI will help psychiatrists more effectively diagnose and treat patients
By collecting and rapidly analyzing large swaths of data, machine-learning tools can now help psychiatrists offer better care for their patients. Quartet Health, for example, screens patient medical histories and analyzes behavioral patterns to reveal undiagnosed mental health conditions.4 Expect AI to gain popularity among psychiatrists and help them uncover and anticipate problems more quickly.
You may have heard it said that in the future nothing is certain except uncertainty. While that may be true, that’s not stopping us from trying to predict what’s next. The editorial staff at Psychiatry Advisor huddled together to compile a list of breakthroughs we predict will affect psychiatrists and their patients in 2019 and beyond. The crystal ball says…
- Brodwin E. A ‘party drug’ with potential to be the next blockbuster antidepressant is edging closer to the mainstream, but it could set you back $9,000. Business Insider. December 1, 2018. Accessed December 20, 2018.
- From street drug to depression therapy. Harvard Health. November 2018. Accessed December 20, 2018.
- Henry Z. These startups are using AI and virtual reality to fight mental illness. Inc. June 8, 2018. Accessed December 20, 2018.
- Garg P, Glick S. AI’s potential to diagnose and treat mental illness. Harvard Business Review. October 22, 2018. Accessed December 20, 2018.