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Spravato Specialist

Matthew L. Mintz, MD, FACP -  - Internist

Matthew L. Mintz, MD, FACP

Internist located in Bethesda, MD

Spravato (nasal esketamine) is an FDA-approved treatment for depression in patients who have not responded to two or more medications. Spravato is a nasal spray that is self-administered in a certified treatment center. Patients must be observed for 2 hours after administration, and must have someone drive them home after treatment.

Spravato

Spravato Treatment Center

Depression is a common, but serious condition that affects how you feel, and can adversely impact daily activities such as sleeping, eating, or working.  While many patients respond to prescription medications and/or counselling, up one third of patients do not improve even after two or more medications. This is called treatment resistant depression.  Treatment resistant depression can be debilitating for patients, and lead to thoughts of suicide and even suicide attempts.  Fortunately, Spravato (nasal esketamine) is a new FDA approved medication shown to be safe and effective in patients with treatment resistant depression, and does not require taking a daily pill.  Only certain healthcare settings and physicians are authorized to prescribe and administer Spravato. Dr. Matthew Mintz, located in Bethesda, Maryland, is an official designated provider of Spravato, and can provide treatment to patients who reside in Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville, Chevy Chase, or anywhere in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia.  With a referral from your psychiatrist, Dr. Mintz can determine if you are an appropriate candidate for Spravato, assist you in getting insurance to cover the medication, and monitor you during administration of Spravato in his private medical office.

 

Spravato (Nasal Esketamine) Q & A

What is Spravato?

Spravato (nasal esketamine) is an FDA-approved treatment for depression in patients who have not responded to two or more medications.  Spravato is a nasal spray that is self-administered in a certified treatment center.  Patients must be observed for 2 hours after administration, and must have someone drive them home after treatment.

How Does Spravato Work?

The mechanism by which esketamine exerts its antidepressant effect is unknown.  Esketamine is thought to work through multiple mechanisms: it modulates the levels of certain neurotransmitters (GABA, Glutamate) in the brain, improves cellular communication, promotes growth of new nerve cells, and decreases inflammation.

How is Spravato different from Ketamine?

Ketamine is a general anesthetic agent with a proven safety record that has been used in hospitals for decades.  Recently, ketamine has been administered intravenously in clinics to treat depression.  However, intravenous ketamine infusions are not approved by the FDA, not covered by insurance, and can be very expensive- costing up to $1000 per treatment.  Spravato (esketamine) is derivative of ketamine that is administered as a nose spray.  It is approved by the FDA and covered by most insurance companies.  Spravato can only be administered in an approved treatment center.

What does it feel like when taking Spravato?

Spravato is very different from anti-depressant pills, which take days to weeks to show any effect.  Spravato causes something known as dissociation, which is feeling disconnected from yourself, your thoughts, feelings, space and time.  This is not necessarily unpleasant, and patients often report feeling like being in dream-like state, or feeling like they are floating.  You may also feel sleepy or dizzy. These sensations usually wear off within the 2 hour observation period, though patients should not drive until the next day.  Improvement in depression symptoms can often be seen after the first dose.

What are the side-effects of Spravato?

Side effects include dissociation; dizziness, vertigo (feels like the room is spinning), and feeling drunk; nausea and vomiting; sleepiness and lethargy; and reduced sense of touch.  Blood pressure can also become elevated, so patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure and heart failure should not take Spravato. Any side effects usually resolve within the 2 hour observation period, but someone will need to drive you home after taking Spravato.

Do I need a referral from a psychiatrist?

Yes. Dr. Mintz requires a referral from your psychiatrist.  Treatment resistant depression is a serious disease, and it is important for your psychiatrist to be involved in your treatment, even if he or she is not prescribing or administering Spravato.  Dr. Mintz will ensure that you receive and safely take Spravato, monitoring any treatment effects during the course of your treatment.  Your psychiatrist will manage any of your psychiatric symptoms while you are taking Spravato, just as he or she normally would.

What is the process for starting SPRAVATO?

Spravato can only be delivered to and administered at an approved treatment center.  Dr. Mintz is one of the few physicians in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia who is approved to prescribe and administer Spravato.  While Spravato is covered by most insurance companies, it is expensive and almost always requires prior approval. Thus, the process for starting Spravato is a little more complex than calling in a prescription to your local pharmacy.  The first step in starting Spravato is a referral from your psychiatrist to Dr. Mintz, who will perform an initial evaluation to determine if you are an appropriate candidate for Spravato treatment.  Dr. Mintz will then reach out to your insurance company to find out if Spravato is covered and what your co-pay for the medication will be.  Once it is determined that Spravato is covered and that you can afford any co-pay, Dr. Mintz will order Spravato from an approved pharmacy that will send your medication to Dr. Mintz’ office.  Finally, Dr. Mintz’ staff will contact you to set up an appointment for your Spravato treatment.  Spravato is given twice a week for the first 4 weeks, then weekly.

How Much Will Spravato Cost Me?

Your cost for Spravato depends on your insurance.  There are two components to the cost of Spravato: the cost of the medication, and the cost of the administration.

Medication:  Spravato is covered by most insurance companies, but will likely require prior-authorization, which Dr. Mintz will perform.  Dr. Mintz will not only determine coverage, but will also determine your co-pay, so you know the cost of each dose before you start treatment.  For patients with commercial/private insurance (CareFirst, United, Aetna, etc.), Janssen (the pharmaceutical company that makes Spravato) has coupons that can reduce your cost for Spravato to as little as $10 per treatment.  For patients with government insurance (Medicare) or no insurance, Janssen has additional programs to help you afford Spravato.

Administration:  Spravato can only be administered in an approved treatment center, such as Dr. Mintz’ office.  Patients must be observed for 2 hours after treatment.  The initial consultation is $250 and each 2 hour treatment administration is $175.  While Dr. Mintz does not contract with any insurance companies, he can give you an invoice that you can submit to your commercial/private insurance or Medicare supplement plan for reimbursement (HMO’s or Medicare will not reimburse you for treatment by Dr. Mintz).  The amount you are reimbursed for the evaluation and treatment will depend on your plan’s policy for reimbursement for out-of-network providers, your co-pay, and your deductible; so check with your plan.

As an example, a patient with a PPO private insurance that covers out of network providers might only pay $10 per medication, plus a $40 co-pay for each visit, or $50 per Spravato treatment.  Out of pocket costs vary widely by insurer and plan, so check with your insurance company.

 

 

 

 

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