Iowa Ketamine Clinic triples capacity, depression therapy
Iowa Ketamine Clinic relocated from Urbandale to West Des Moines last month and tripled its capacity to provide mental health therapy.
Why it matters: Demand is surging. Prior to the move, some patients had to wait weeks to begin therapy, Mindy Gingery, an owner of the clinic, tells Axios.
- There's growing concern that unvetted and potentially risky telehealth treatments will be used more frequently for ketamine treatment if clinics are unable to keep up with patient demand.
Catch up fast: Ketamine is a hallucinogenic drug introduced in clinical practice in the 1960s as an anesthetic.
- Growing research shows it can alleviate severe depression and has been used by some clinics for years as an "off label" treatment.
- The FDA approved an inhaled version of the drug in 2019 for adults resistant to other antidepressant medicines.
The big picture: There's a national surge in the drug's use and not enough clinicians, Axios' Sabrina Moreno reports.
- More startups began offering at-home ketamine treatments after U.S. telehealth regulations were relaxed during the pandemic.
- One example is the Canadian-based TripSitter Clinic, which promotes "Iowa online psychedelic therapy" using ketamine and online doctors.
State of play: There are at least three other ketamine clinics in Iowa, according to online listings.
- They're in Dallas County, Webster City, and Coralville.
How it works: The drug in clinical settings is typically administered via a series of nasal spray treatments over a month.
- An intravenous method can sometimes offer faster results but costs around $3,000 and is less commonly covered by insurance, Gingery said.
Zoom in: There are no telehealth options or walk-in appointments at Gingery's WDM clinic, which can now treat up to 11 patients at a time.
- Only adult patients diagnosed with a major depressive disorder referred by a doctor are eligible.
- Patients are monitored for side effects like intoxication and high blood pressure at least two hours after treatments.
The bottom lines: Telehealth revolutionized the ability to provide therapy, but Gingery says it will never be an option for her clinic because of risks associated with the drug.
Of note: TripSitter did not respond to Axios' request for comment.
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