At-home, sublingual ketamine telehealth is a safe and effective treatment for moderate to severe anxiety and depression: Findings from a large, prospective, open-label effectiveness trial

This open-label (real-world evidence) paper (n=1247) argues that at-home sublingual ketamine (tablets for under the tongue) is both safe (only four patients dropped out) and effective (remission of 32% for depression and anxiety). Patients only spoke with a ‘guide’ (not a therapist) over video as the study was conducted during Covid. The results look promising, though the study sponsor (Mindbloom) has come under scrutiny recently.

Abstract

Background At-home Ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT) with psychosocial support and remote monitoring through telehealth platforms addresses access barriers, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Large-scale evaluation of this approach is needed for questions regarding safety and effectiveness for depression and anxiety.

Methods In this prospective study, a large outpatient sample received KAT over four weeks through a telehealth provider. Symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) for depression, and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7) for anxiety. Demographics, adverse events, and patient-reported dissociation were also analyzed. Symptom trajectories were identified using Growth Mixture Modeling, along with outcome predictors.

Results A sample of 1247 completed treatment with sufficient data, 62.8 % reported a 50 % or greater improvement on the PHQ-9, d = 1.61, and 62.9 % on the GAD-7, d = 1.56. Remission rates were 32.6 % for PHQ-9 and 31.3 % for GAD-7, with 0.9 % deteriorating on the PHQ-9, and 0.6 % on the GAD-7. Four patients left treatment early due to side effects or clinician disqualification, and two more due to adverse events. Three patient subpopulations emerged, characterized by Improvement (79.3 %), Chronic (11.4 %), and Delayed Improvement (9.3 %) for PHQ-9 and GAD-7. Endorsing side effects at Session 2 was associated with delayed symptom improvement, and Chronic patients were more likely than the other two groups to report dissociation at Session 4.

Conclusion At-home KAT response and remission rates indicated rapid and significant antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Rates were consistent with laboratory- and clinic-administered ketamine treatment. Patient screening and remote monitoring maintained low levels of adverse events. Future research should assess durability of effects.”

Authors: Thomas D. Hull, Matteo Malgaroli, Adam Gazzaley, Teddy J. Akiki, Alok Madan, Leonardo Vando, Kristin Arden, Jack Swain, Madeline Klotz & Casey Paleos

Study details

Compounds studied
Ketamine

Topics studied
Depression Anxiety

Study characteristics
Open-Label

Participants
1247 Humans

Institutes

Institutes associated with this publication

Mindbloom
Mindbloom is a forward-thinking ketamine clinic that aims to make psychedelics treatments more accessible. A normal treatment consists of four sessions and leans heavily on the use of technology to help the participant integrate the experience and keep costs down.