Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) describes various forms of depression that have undergone treatment and seen minimal, if any, long-term positive results. With depression affecting 6.7% of the United States’ population and over 300 million people worldwide, the need for innovative treatments for this mental illness is imperative in not only improving global mental health, but also fighting the stigma against it. TRD can encompass all types of depression, including:

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Psychotic Depression
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Depression (PMDD)
  • Situational Depression
  • Atypical Depression

With COVID-19 affecting our entire global community, cases of depression and other mental health illnesses have rose exponentially due to the prolonged stress. According to a study published in the JAMA Network, COVID-19 and the related stressors from the outbreak has caused depression rates to increase threefold. The study, which surveyed 1441 people during the pandemic and 5065 before the pandemic located in the United States, gives a glimpse at how depression rates have dramatically increased due to COVID-19. Now more than ever, innovative new treatments for depression and other mental illnesses are imperative for helping the healing and recovery process, even after vaccines are available and COVID-19 treatment options are easily accessible.

On March 5th, 2019, the FDA made history through their approval of Spravato (esketamine) as a treatment for TRD, the first prescription nasally inhaled drug for TRD, taken along with the use of oral anti-depressants, to help to give patients the ability to improve their mood and reduce relapses. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. developed Spravato as the first advancement of a new mechanical action to treat Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in the past few decades. In the clinical trials conducted, three short-term groups of participants diagnosed with TRD started a new anti-depressant medication along with either Spravato or a placebo. One of the three groups showed a statistically significant decrease in depressive symptoms for those that received Spravato. In a long-term study, those patients who received Spravato were 51% less likely to relapse than those taking the placebo. In total, these results include data from 1,700 adults.

However, since Spravato’s release into the market, there have been negative side effects reported, like dissociation, sedation, and addiction, and furthermore is not approved for use in people under 24 years old. While the Spravato can have positive global effects on individuals afflicted with depression and improve patient care, the need for further research and drug development is crucial for continuing to enhance lives around the world, and even more apparent from the COVID-19 outbreak.

For life science companies innovating new drug therapies to treat TRD and other forms of depression, in-depth understanding of regulatory laws in the target market, as well as local culture, is imperative. While the drug treatment’s efficacy and results may be groundbreaking, without proper knowledge of cultural nuances, the product’s reach for improving patients’ lives around the world is not nearly as effective, nor is its application. CSOFT enables life science companies developing innovative new drug therapies expanding into global markets to effectively reach their target patients in a culturally appropriate way while also complying with regulatory laws.

For more information on how to recognize TRD, as well as other forms of treatment, please read Dianne Grande’s, PhD article from Choosing Therapy.

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