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SPRAVATO®▼for the rapid reduction of depressive symptoms in a psychiatric emergency for patients with MDD

Posted in Industry News on 16th Dec 2020

Janssen Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for SPRAVATO® (Esketamine Nasal Spray) for the Rapid Reduction of Depressive Symptoms in a Psychiatric Emergency for Patients with Major Depressive Disorder

  • Positive opinion is based on results from two Phase 3 ASPIRE studies in adult patients with moderate to severe Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with current/active suicidal ideation with intent, designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of esketamine nasal spray used in addition to comprehensive standard of care (SOC)1,2
  • In ASPIRE studies, rapid reduction in depressive symptoms was seen as early as four hours after an initial dose of esketamine nasal spray1,2

 The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson announced on December 11th 2020 that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended the expanded use of SPRAVATO® (esketamine nasal spray) co-administered with oral antidepressant therapy in adults with a moderate to severe episode of MDD, as acute short term treatment, for the rapid reduction of depressive symptoms, which according to clinical judgement constitute a psychiatric emergency.3

Immediate intervention for individuals living with Major Depressive Disorder who are in a psychiatric emergency is essential. Whilst currently available antidepressants are effective in treating depressive symptomatology, they can often take weeks to achieve their full effects, which limits their utility in acute, emergency treatment.
Allitia DiBernardo, MD, European Therapeutic Area Lead for Mood Disorders, Janssen-Cilag.

Across both studies, patients treated with esketamine nasal spray accompanied by comprehensive SOC had a statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in depressive symptoms (reduction from baseline Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale [MADRS] total score) at 24 hours after receiving the first dose compared to placebo nasal spray in combination with comprehensive SOC (p=0.006). The benefit of esketamine nasal spray plus comprehensive SOC on symptoms of MDD was apparent as early as 4 hours after the first dose.1,2 The effectiveness of esketamine nasal spray in preventing suicide or in reducing suicidal ideation or behaviour has not been demonstrated.

The safety profile of esketamine nasal spray in this patient population was consistent with previous studies in adults with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).4,5 The most common treatment-emergent adverse events (≥20%) observed in the esketamine nasal spray plus comprehensive SOC group versus the placebo nasal spray plus comprehensive SOC group during the double-blind phase were dizziness (38.3% vs 13.8%), dissociation (33.9% vs 5.8%), nausea (26.9% vs 13.8%), somnolence (20.7% vs 10.2%), and headache (20.3% vs 20.4%), respectively.6

“There is a pressing need to provide individuals with Major Depressive Disorder who are experiencing a psychiatric emergency with treatments that can rapidly reduce their depressive symptoms,” said Bill Martin, Ph.D., Global Therapeutic Area Head, Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, LLC. “If approved by the European Commission, esketamine nasal spray has the potential to offer individuals relief from debilitating depressive symptoms and address a key unmet need within this population.”

With this positive CHMP opinion, esketamine nasal spray will now be considered by the European Commission for adults with a moderate to severe episode of MDD, as acute, short term treatment, for the rapid reduction of depressive symptoms, which according to clinical judgement constitute a psychiatric emergency. The European Commission has the authority to grant marketing authorisation for medicines in the European Economic Area.

Read more…
Major Depressive Disorder – where are we falling short?

† The Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS): A 10-item diagnostic questionnaire that psychiatrists use to measure the severity of depressive episodes in patients with mood disorders.

About esketamine nasal spray

As an antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor, esketamine nasal spray offers the first new approved mechanism of action in 30 years for an anti-depressant.4,7–9  

Esketamine nasal spray is self-administered, under the direct supervision of a healthcare professional, through a single-use nasal spray device, offering a novel mode of drug administration for the treatment of MDD. The decision to prescribe esketamine nasal spray should be determined by a psychiatrist.10

Esketamine nasal spray was approved by the European Commission for use in combination with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), in adult patients with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TRD) in December 2019. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved esketamine nasal spray for use in conjunction with an oral antidepressant, for adults living with treatment-resistant depression in March 2019 and for use in adults with major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behaviour on 31 July 2020.11–13

Adverse events should be reported. This medicinal product is subject to additional monitoring and it is therefore important to report any suspected adverse events related to this medicinal product. Reporting forms and information can be found at or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store. Adverse events should also be reported to Janssen-Cilag Limited on 01494 567447 or at

For further safety information, please see the Summary of Product Characteristics available at

About Major Depressive Disorder

 Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects nearly 40 million people of all ages in Europe and is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.14,15 Individuals with depression, including MDD, experience continuous suffering from a serious, biologically-based disease, which has a significant negative impact on all aspects of life, including quality of life and function.16,17 At its worst, MDD can be fatal, with MDD patients demonstrating a 20-fold higher risk of suicide than the rest of the population.18 Despite treatment advances, currently available antidepressant medications can take between four to six weeks to reach their full effect, and one-third of people who suffer from MDD do not respond to these treatments.19,20


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  2. Ionescu D, et al. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2020;pyaa068.
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