Year: 2020 Source: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. (2020). 81(3), 19m13191. doi: 10.4088/JCP.19m13191. SIEC No: 20200694

Objective: To compare esketamine to placebo, each in addition to standard-of-care treatment, for rapidly reducing major depressive disorder symptoms, including suicidal ideation.

Methods: This phase 3, double-blind, multicenter study (ASPIRE I), conducted between June 2017 and December 2018, enrolled 226 adults having major depressive disorder based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5) criteria, active suicidal ideation with intent, and need for psychiatric hospitalization. Patients were randomized 1:1 to esketamine 84 mg or placebo nasal spray twice-weekly for 4 weeks, each with comprehensive standard-of-care treatment (initial psychiatric hospitalization and newly initiated or optimized oral antidepressant[s] therapy). Change from baseline to 24 hours post-first dose in Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score (primary endpoint) was analyzed using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), and change in Clinical Global Impression of Severity of Suicidality Revised version (CGI-SS-r; key secondary endpoint) score was analyzed using ANCOVA on ranks with treatment difference estimated using the Hodges-Lehmann estimate.

Results: Greater improvement in MADRS total score was observed with esketamine + standard-of-care versus placebo + standard-of-care at 24 hours (least-squares mean difference [SE]: -3.8 [1.39]; 95% CI, -6.56 to -1.09; 2-sided P = .006), as well as at earlier (4 hours) and later time points during 4-week double-blind treatment. The difference between groups in the severity of suicidality was not statistically significant (median of treatment difference [95% CI]: 0.0 [-1.00 to 0.00]; 2-sided P = .107). The most common adverse events among esketamine-treated patients were dizziness, dissociation, headache, nausea, and somnolence.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate rapid and robust efficacy of esketamine nasal spray in reducing depressive symptoms in severely ill patients with major depressive disorder who have active suicidal ideation with intent.