Ketamine prescriptions increasing nationwide, despite FDA warning

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The mind-altering drug ketamine has traditionally been used as an anesthetic for patients undergoing surgery but was also popular as a psychedelic in the 1990s.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration and some doctors are concerned about the growing use of ketamine, a mind-altering drug, as a prescription painkiller. The FDA has not approved ketamine for non-surgical use, but the use of off-label ketamine is not illegal.

The number of prescriptions for it to treat pain, depression, and other conditions has continued to rise, often fueled by telehealth companies and for-profit clinics. According to a report by the Epic Health Research Network, the number of patients with a ketamine prescription in 2022 was 5.47 times the 2017 rate.

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Why is the FDA concerned? Last month, the agency issued a warning against nonsurgical ketamine use. The agency says misuse of ketamine can lead to risks including sedation, dissociation, psychiatric events or worsening of psychiatric disorders, increases in blood pressure, and lower urinary tract and bladder symptoms.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2023, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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