Repurposing old drugs like Ketamine can save time and money

Repurposing old drugs like Ketamine can save time and money

By ketamine@dmin | February 9th, 2019 | Categories: Alternative Depression Treatment

We hear a lot in the media these days about the outrageous and sometimes prohibitive cost of prescription medication. What we don’t often hear about is the amount of time and money it takes to develop new, effective, and safe medications. It can cost anywhere from $1 billion to $2 billion to research, develop, test, and produce just one new drug, and the process can take anywhere from 10 to 12 years! Unfortunately, fewer than 20% of medications on the market actually generate enough revenue to cover those costs.

Luckily, sometimes medications themselves present an answer to this troubling dilemma: when an existing medication offers an unexpected solution to a different problem than that for which it was designed. There are numerous examples: sildenafil and minoxidil were both created to treat cardiovascular issues; sildenafil has been repurposed as Viagra to treat erectile disfunction and minoxidil has been repurposed as Rogaine to fight male pattern baldness. Mecamylamine, valsartan, and ropinirole are long-standing treatments for high blood pressure but are being repurposed as potential treatments for depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease (respectively). The list could go on.

There are a variety of benefits to repurposing existing medications in this way. Finding a new purpose for an existing drug may literally cut years off the development cycle, providing a necessary shortcut for an industry with a high rate of failure (only about 10% of new drugs actually go on to be approved by the FDA). Shortening the development time for a drug can also cut the price tag, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in research costs. The most important benefit, however, may be the fact that with existing medications, the side effects are already well-known and established.  


Repurposing Ketamine: An “Old” Anesthesia Presents a New Treatment Option for Mood Disorders

Ketamine is an excellent example of a long-standing medication that is now being “repurposed” for a variety of different—and important—uses. First approved by the FDA in 1970, ketamine has a long and well-established history as an anesthetic, first being used as a field anesthetic during the Vietnam War; its ease of administration and ability to work quickly, safely, and effectively played a key role in helping injured soldiers survive until they could get to a field hospital. It is still used as a safe and effective anesthetic in some surgical situations, as well as in veterinary medicine.

Ongoing research into the mechanisms through which ketamine impacts the brain are opening up some amazing potential uses for this well-known drug. When administered in sub-anesthetic doses directly into the blood stream—known as IV Ketamine Infusion Therapy—ketamine has been shown to have an immediate anti-depressive effect. This potential therapy for depression, PTSD, and other mood disorders is especially promising for individuals for whom traditional anti-depressants have not proven effective. It is also promising as an emergency intervention for individuals who simply cannot wait for traditional anti-depressants to “kick in” and stop cycles of negative thinking and suicidal ideation.

Its long history has shown that ketamine is safe and highly effective, with minimal effects, making it especially promising as a “repurposed” medication. As research continues into the benefits of IV Ketamine Infusion Therapy as a possible alternative to opioids, we will likely add yet one more medication to the list of those that have been successfully “repurposed”!


Contact Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles

If you or someone you love is seeking help for depression, PTSD, or another form of mood disorder, or coping with chronic pain, we encourage you to contact Dr. Steven L. Mandel at Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles immediately to find out if IV Ketamine Infusion Therapy may offer a solution.

We encourage you to visit our website at or contact us at 424-343-8889 to schedule an appointment.
For more information about Ketamine Infusion Therapy treatments for depression, bipolar, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), fibromyalgia, pain syndromes and other conditions contact us at Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles in Southern California (Orange County) by clicking here or calling  310-270-0625.


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