Canadian Insurance Provider To Cover Off-Label Use Of Ketamine For Treating Depression

Braxia Scientific Corp. BRAX BRAXF, a medical research company in the psychedelics space, recently announced that it has established direct billing practices for its ketamine treatment at specialized mental health clinics in Canada that serve Canadian military veterans.

What Happened?

Clinics from the Canadian Rapid Treatment Center of Excellence Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Braxia with locations in Mississauga, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal will

establish direct billing practices with health insurance provider Medavie Blue Cross for qualifying Canadian military veterans.

The insurance provider will cover 100% of oral, nasal spray and intravenous ketamine treatments, plus travel costs.

Why It Matters

Ketamine is a dissociative drug approved as an anesthetic in the 1960s. Today, it is used in an off-label capacity for its later-found efficacy in the rapid treatment of depression symptoms.

Physicians are normally allowed to prescribe any drug off-label, although these may be used to treat different illnesses from the drug’s approved indication.

“Our health care system does acknowledge and allow us to use medicines off-label. Probably 20 percent or more of all prescriptions are given that way,” said Dr. Reid Robison in a recent interview. Robison is the chief medical officer at Novamind NM, a psychedelics company offering ketamine treatment at several clinics in Utah.

However, off-label use is usually not covered by health insurance, which has consistently been the case for off-label ketamine use for treating depression in both Canada and the U.S.

At the moment, only Spravato - a ketamine analog developed by Johnson and Johnson JNJ subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals - is officially approved for treating depression in the form of a nasal spray.

Intravenous and oral use of ketamine for depression is still only prescribed in an off-label capacity.

What’s Next?

As approvals for new psychedelic molecules lie on the horizon, this event could set a precedent for the entire industry of medicinal psychedelics.

In 2022 or early 2023, the FDA and Health Canada are expected to approve MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Gaining insurance coverage to pay for off-label ketamine in depression could open new possibilities for psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy as new indications, in addition to those initially approved, could follow the same path.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash


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