Saturday 06 March 2021

New treatment for depression could be covered by basic insurance


A nasal spray based on ketamine should be made available on the basic health insurance package to treat people with depression, the Dutch healthcare institute has advised.

Eketamine has been shown to be effective in combination with other anti-depressants in three out of five recent studies and has been approved by both the European Medicines Agency and its US equivalent, the FDA.

The National Health Care Institute says the drug should always be administered by a doctor because it is potentially addictive and can cause hallucinations at higher doses. It is the first psychedelic drug to be approved for medical use to treat depression.

The institute had hoped that the drug would be included in the compulsory insurance package at the start of this year, but the public health ministry and Leiden-based pharmaceutical company Janssen are still negotiating the price. The agency estimates the cost to be more than €10,000 per patient per year.

It said eketamine should offered to adults who had already been treated with at least three other types of antidepressant without success.

Bart Groeneweg, of the Depression Association (Depressie Vereniging), said he was pleased with the institute’s recommendation. ‘Around 20% of people with depression don’t recover,’ he said. ‘These people often feel there is no way out. This gives new hope to this group of patients.’

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.