Jan 7, 2020

Controversial antidepressant Spravato isn't widely used by the VA

President Trump said that he'd directed the Veterans Affairs system to buy "a lot" of a new antidepressant, but so far the agency has treated only 15 veterans with it, STAT reports.

The intrigue: The drug — Spravato, a nasal spray developed by Janssen — has been cautiously rolled out, partially because of questions surrounding the data used for the drug's approval and, thus, its effectiveness.

  • The VA's medical advisory board declined to approve coverage of Spravato for all veterans over the summer, and restricted its use to limited scenarios.
  • The drug's rollout in private clinics and hospitals has also been slow, as providers have struggled to get preauthorization from insurers to administer the drug or reimbursement for monitoring patients after they take it.

The bottom line: Although Trump touted the drug as having "incredible" results, it's available in only seven VA facilities out of 1,200.

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