• Press Release

Icahn School of Medicine Dean Dennis Charney, MD, Co-Invented a Patented Method of Treating Patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression Which Is Part of the Drug Application for Janssen’s Newly Approved SPRAVATO™ (esketamine) CIII Nasal Spray

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Approves New Drug that Could Bring Relief to Millions of People with Treatment-Resistant Depression

  • New York, NY
  • (March 05, 2019)

Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is a co-inventor of a method of treatment for patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression which is patented and part of the drug application for Janssen’s SPRAVATO™(esketmine) CIII nasal spray, which was approved today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This could bring relief to millions of patients with this condition. 

Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is a devastating disease and has a profound impact on people’s lives. An estimated one-third of people in the United States with major depressive disorder have TRD, which places an ongoing emotional, functional, and economic burden on the individual, their loved ones, and society.1,2,3 TRD is a critical unmet health need associated with greater morbidity, higher health care costs, and various comorbid conditions. In fact, individuals with TRD have been reported to pay more than twice as much in medical costs, were twice as likely to be hospitalized, and had six times higher hospital-related expenditures. 3,4,5

Delivered in the form of a nasal spray, esketamine works differently than the three classes of antidepressants that are currently on the market. The drug works on the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, an ionotropic glutamate receptor in the brain. In contrast, widely used antidepressants target different neurotransmitters—serotonin, serotonin and norepinephrine, and norepinephrine and dopamine—and can take weeks or even months to work. These drugs are considered ineffective in at least 30 percent of cases.

“As a researcher, you strive to come up with new treatments for the patient, especially in terms of finding answers to the most debilitating diseases,” said Dr. Charney, who is also President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System. “To know that you oversaw the early development of an approach that can make a difference in the lives of countless individuals is extremely rewarding.” 

Dr. Charney is an international expert in neurobiology and the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, and we commend him and his colleagues for their work in changing the paradigm for patients with treatment-resistant depression,” said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mount Sinai Health System. “Through his commitment to innovation and science, he has inspired countless researchers to leverage new technologies and create new discoveries to benefit the lives of patients around the world—while at the same time leading the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to unparalleled growth and high national rankings.”

The new treatment received overwhelming support of an FDA advisory panel on February 12, 2019.

Conflicts of Interest Disclosure: Dr. Charney is named as co-inventor on patents filed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) relating to the treatment for treatment-resistant depression, suicidal ideation and other disorders.  ISMMS has entered into a licensing agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and it has and will receive payments from Janssen under the license agreement related to these patents for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression and suicidal ideation under this agreement.  Consistent with the ISMMS Faculty Handbook, Dr. Charney is entitled to a portion of the payments received by the ISMMS.  Since SPRAVATO has received regulatory approval for treatment-resistant depression, ISMMS and thus, through the ISMMS, Dr. Charney, will be entitled to additional payments, beyond those already received, under the license agreement.


  1. Rush AJ et al. Acute and longer-term outcomes in depressed outpatients requiring one or several treatment steps: a STAR*D report. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(11):1905-1917.
  2. Mrazek DA et al. Psychiatr Serv. 2014;65(8):977-987.
  3. Kubitz N et al. PloS One. 2013;8(10): e76882.
  4. Corey-Lisle PK et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2002;63(8):717-26.
  5. Ivanova JI et al. Curr Med Res Opin. 2010;26(10):2475-84.

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Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.

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