By Sy Mukherjee
February 12, 2019

Hello, readers.

Drug giant Johnson & Johnson enjoyed a 1.6% stock boost on Tuesday after a crucial Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee vote recommending approval of its intriguing, if controversial, depression treatment esketamine.

The FDA isn’t required to follow the expert panel’s recommendations – but it usually does, especially when the votes are as lopsided as they were with the Johnson & Johnson drug (the vote recommending approval was 14-2-1).

It’s a significant victory for J&J given some questions of esketamine’s safety profile. The drug is a nasal formulation of ketamine, a powerful anesthetic that’s also often used as a party drug called “Special K.”

The major question facing the treatment, which has shown clinical benefit, is whether or not potential long-term harms involving its use would outweigh its benefits. The FDA advisers seem to have concluded that they would not.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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