History and Uses

Ketamine is not a new drug. It is classified as a dissociative anesthetic (dissociative means detached from reality and usual self) and has been approved for use as an anesthetic agent for many years due to its safety. It was first developed by Parke Davis in 1956 and was widely used during Vietnam where it received the nickname, “buddy drug,” because it could be administered by fellow soldiers on the battlefield. It is also on the World Health Organization’s “Model List of Essential Medicines” for its safe anesthetic effect and is commonly used on children because of this.


Off-Label Use

Once a drug has been approved by the FDA for one purpose, healthcare providers may prescribe it for other purposes when they are deemed medically appropriate for the patient. This practice of prescribing a drug for a purpose other than its original intended use is known as “off-label.” This is not uncommon though. Up to 70% of medications prescribed today are “off-label” for at least one use. Although ketamine is an FDA approved anesthetic, it is being used off-label in sub-anesthetic doses for the treatment of depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar depression, PTSD, migraines, and chronic pain.

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