Esketamine Nasal Spray for Rapid Reduction of Depressive Symptoms in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Who Have Active Suicide Ideation With Intent: Results of a Phase 3, Double-Blind, Randomized Study (ASPIRE II)

Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2021 Jan 20;24(1):22-31. doi: 10.1093/ijnp/pyaa068.

Abstract

Background: Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) having active suicidal ideation with intent require immediate treatment.

Methods: This double-blind study (ASPIRE II) randomized adults (aged 18-64 years) with MDD having active suicidal ideation with intent to esketamine 84 mg or placebo nasal spray twice weekly for 4 weeks, given with comprehensive standard of care (hospitalization ≥5 days and newly initiated or optimized oral antidepressant[s]). Change from baseline to 24 hours post-first dose in Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale total score (primary efficacy endpoint) was analyzed using ANCOVA. Clinical Global Impression-Severity of Suicidality-revised (key secondary endpoint) was analyzed using ANCOVA on ranks of change.

Results: Of 230 patients who were randomized (115 per arm), 227 received study drug and were included in efficacy/safety analyses; 184 (80.0%) completed double-blind treatment. Greater improvement in Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale total score was observed with esketamine (mean [SD]: -15.7 [11.56]) vs placebo (-12.4 [10.43]), each with standard of care, at 24 hours (least-squares mean difference [SE]: -3.9 [1.39], 95% CI: -6.60, -1.11; 2-sided P = .006). This was also noted at the earlier (4-hour) timepoint (least-squares mean difference -4.2, 95% CI: -6.38, -1.94). Patients in both treatment groups experienced rapid reduction in Clinical Global Impression-Severity of Suicidality-revised score; the between-group difference was not statistically significant. The most common adverse events among esketamine-treated patients were dizziness, dissociation, nausea, dysgeusia, somnolence, headache, and paresthesia.

Conclusion: This study confirmed rapid and robust reduction of depressive symptoms with esketamine nasal spray in severely ill patients with MDD who have active suicidal ideation with intent. Trial Registration: Clinical Trials.gov identifier: NCT03097133.

Keywords: Esketamine; depression; suicidal ideation; suicide risk.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03097133