The FDA must not restrict healthcare provider access to ketamine, this includes any rescheduling domestically or by international accord. Ketamine is a vital medication in emergency medicine, prehospital and anesthetic communities for this reason it is on the World Health Organization list of “Essential Medications”.
The safety profile of ketamine as an anesthetic agent is unrivaled, and it’s efficacy for both sedation and analgesia make it an ideal agent for procedural sedation and pain control in the emergency department and prehospital environments, in developing healthcare systems it is often used as the sole anesthetic for general surgery!
Unlike opioids ketamine has been proven time and again to be safe and have a low abuse potential, it is carried by US Armed Forces medics and corpsmen for treating our own soldiers and Marines when they suffer catastrophic injuries in the field.
Perhaps ketamine’s vital importance can not be illustrated more clearly than by a single quote from a US physician whom was part of the international response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti which left hundreds of thousands dead and tens of thousands more requiring surgery including hundreds of field amputations: “An InSTEDD* [sic] doctor who returned to the U.S. from Haiti on Thursday said the medicine most needed by physicians there is “ketamine, ketamine, ketamine” — an anesthetic.” -NPR article on January 21, 2010 *InSTEDD – Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters
Ketamine has an undeniable place in routine emergency medicine and surgery as well as a critical role in disaster medicine. While no medicine is a panacea, ketamine may be as close as we come for anesthesia and analgesia in the critically ill.
I personally use ketamine routinely in my practice of emergency medicine for pain control and anesthesia in the gravely ill and injured. When administered by an appropriate healthcare provider ketamine not only eases pain and suffering it literally saves lives! Please ensure that we, the medical community, retain this indispensable tool, keep ketamine accessible to healthcare providers worldwide.