Ketamine taskforce launches in US to lobby insurers

A new organisation has been launched in the United States with the intention of bringing ketamine treatment into the health mainstream.

The Ketamine Taskforce for Access to Safe Care and Insurance Coverage’s mission is to ensure access for physical and mental health patients to what it claims are safe ketamine treatments through insurance coverage of the therapies.

According to its website, the Ketamine Taskforce is made up of a group of patients, doctors, nurse anaesthetists, nurse practitioners and researchers who came together when they saw that there was a need to help people who are struggling to receive access to ketamine infusions due to the lack of sufficient insurance coverage.

According to the Taskforce, the latest US government estimates show that 50 million Americans are estimated to experience chronic pain and 50 million are estimated to live with a mental health condition, with considerable overlap between the two populations.

It claims that ketamine, an FDA-approved anaesthetic, has been used off-label for both mental health and pain conditions for decades with high efficacy and safety.

However, it says that insurers around the country typically consider the use ‘experimental’ and therefore do not cover it in its entirety or at rates that it considers are fair:

“This has left the tens of millions of Americans experiencing mental health conditions and pain with huge suffering and lack of access to affordable treatments. This presents a huge obstacle to the majority of mental health and pain patients who are forced to forego this life changing treatment because they cannot afford to pay out of pocket.”

The Taskforce has also signed up Osmind, described as “the leading ketamine and treatment-resistant mental health electronic health record software provider”, as its technology partner.

The Ketamine Taskforce and Osmind are currently collecting data to demonstrate that ketamine lowers patients’ pain levels and increases their mobility, resulting in an increase in their active participation in various activities and their overall quality of life.

The Taskforce said that that this data will be used to encourage Medicare to approve ketamine as a viable treatment alternative for certain patients and pave the way for coverage expansion into additional pain and mental health areas.