Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles’ Position Statement on the News of Matthew Perry’s Death Caused by the “Acute Effects of Ketamine”

Matthew Perry Cause Of Death

Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles’ Position Statement on Matthew Perry’s Cause of Death and Ketamine

Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles’ reaction to the news of Matthew Perry’s passing is sadness. This is a tragedy. Mr. Perry shared publicly regarding his mental health struggles, and we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends. Regarding the recent publication of the toxicology report, we find it dangerously misleading.

KCLA wants to reassure all of our patients, colleagues, friends, and family that there is no connection between this occurrence and the therapeutic use of ketamine for mental health. Mr. Perry had a blood level of more than ten times the amount that is used to treat depression, in combination with an opioid and benzodiazepine, while alone in a hot tub and drowned.

When used responsibly as a therapeutic agent, ketamine is among the safest, most effective, fastest-acting mental health treatments available today.

Safeguards for the Therapeutic Use of Ketamine

Different ketamine clinics have different policies and procedures for keeping their patients safe. Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles (KCLA) provides hospital-grade monitoring of ECG, blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate.

Our clinical staff are all trained in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and moderate sedation by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). KCLA is accredited by Quad A, the gold standard in outpatient facility certification.

Every patient receives a private room where they are closely monitored under direct observation for safety and comfort by our care team of an anesthesiologist, psychiatrists, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNP), and registered nurses (RN).

KCLA has all of the necessary supplies and equipment for emergencies, and fortunately, after more than 30,000 infusions provided over the last decade, we have never needed to use any of it. Still, everything is maintained, kept up to date, and is available if needed.

Saying that “ketamine is dangerous” because of what happened to Matthew Perry is like saying planes are dangerous because someone with no prior training or experience flew and crashed a plane and died. Planes are very safe when a professional pilot is at the controls; otherwise, they’re treacherous. Ketamine is no different.

Concerns About Prescribing Practices

Generally speaking, our nation is overprescribed. People are taking too many medications, including controlled substances, some of which can be addictive and dangerous, especially when combined. Opioids and benzodiazepines are a couple of prominent examples.

As far as prescribing practices around ketamine are concerned, some companies are prescribing ketamine over the internet to people they know little about and who are taking this medicine with minimal oversight and no supervision at the time of dosing. We find this very troubling and dangerous. Ketamine for depression is very safe and effective when used responsibly under clinical observation, though it is not appropriate for everyone and must be used with care.

Concerns About Scrutiny and the Limiting of Access

The sensationalism the news media has created around Mr. Perry’s death has caused a lot of unnecessary fear in patients who need ketamine therapy. We have already received comments from people who have previously benefited from treatment or have loved ones who previously benefited who are now second-guessing the safety of ketamine for depression.

Prospective patients who haven’t started treatment have reached out with concerns about their health and safety and whether or not they should proceed. Increased regulation, scrutiny, and criticism of ketamine can limit its availability to those who need it, and this can cause irreparable harm, including death by suicide.

Like with anything, ketamine is not inherently bad or good; it’s entirely dependent upon how it is used. Ketamine is a powerful medicine that relieves depression and suicidality more quickly and reliably than anything else available today. It must be provided responsibly by a knowledgeable caregiver.

Unlike most of the other common medications for mental health, ketamine is a cheap generic medicine. No pharmaceutical company will fight for ketamine’s reputation or market it due to its low margin. Ketamine therapy is also more effective in treating depression than other conventional treatments and medications so it threatens the status quo and bottom line of the pharmaceutical companies that make higher-margin, less effective alternatives.

These reasons are some of the politics behind why ketamine is not reaching more of the people who need it and why it is so easily bashed whenever there are bad outcomes related to it. As a point of reference, more than 120,000 people have died from drug overdoses in the US in 2023, with opioids as the leading cause. More than 140,000 people die from alcohol every single year. By contrast, a systemic review of overdoses and deaths related to the use of ketamine has shown only 138 deaths reported across all available literature. Furthermore, “no cases of overdose or death related to the use of ketamine as an antidepressant in a therapeutic setting were found.” 

Ketamine-related deaths are exceedingly rare, which is part of why they are latched onto as big news when they happen, especially when celebrities are involved.

In nearly 100% of deaths involving ketamine, ketamine is not the only drug present and is acknowledged as a contributing factor but not the actual cause of death.

Closing Thoughts

Ketamine is one of the safest, fastest-acting, most effective depression treatments available today. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the US and worldwide. More than 45,000 people complete suicide in the US every year.

Those suffering deserve access to this life-saving treatment from a caring, experienced, licensed medical professional. Demonizing ketamine has real health consequences for the more than 50 million people across the US suffering from a mental health condition.

If you have any questions or concerns about ketamine for depression, contact us today. We are always happy to speak with you confidentially, free of charge.

Call 310-270-0625 or schedule a call at a time that is convenient for you.

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