Ketamine Patent Tracker

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Following the 1956 synthesis of phencyclidine (also referred to as PCP) and the discovery of the drug’s anesthetic effects, Parke Davis Company sought to uncover new phencyclidine analogs with a shorter duration of effect and a more favorable therapeutic profile. 

In 1962, chemist Calvin Stevens identified CI-581, a less potent structural analog of phencyclidine (Li & Vlisides, 2016). Soon thereafter, the candidate, later referred to as ketamine, was advanced into human studies, and eventually marketed under the trade name Ketalar® following a 1970 FDA approval.

Since its approval in 1970, ketamine has been used predominantly in anesthesiology. However, a study published by Berman et al. in the year 2000, on the work of John Krystal, Dennis Charney, and colleagues, drew attention to the drug’s rapid-acting antidepressant effects. This research set the stage for ketamine’s eventual use as an off-label treatment for a range of psychiatric disorders. 

“Ketamine” generally refers to the racemic form of the compound, (R,S)-ketamine. However, the drug’s S(+) and R(–) isomers have also garnered an increasing amount of attention for their therapeutic potential. In fact, in 2019, Janssen’s S-ketamine drug candidate Spravato was approved by the FDA for use alongside an oral antidepressant in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression (TRD). That same year, a pilot study of R-ketamine for TRD was initiated by researchers in Brazil.  

Since then, development efforts using ketamine and its enantiomers have accelerated. More recently, some drug developers have committed to the design and discovery of new, ketamine-inspired arylcyclohexylamines, with the goal of developing differentiated and patentable drug candidates.

Below we have pulled together a curated list of ketamine-related patents and published patent applications that were filed in the U.S. or that later may be filed in the U.S. and become a U.S. patent (as discussed in further detail here). 

It’s important to note that patent applications are kept secret for at least 18 months after filing. So if you came looking for one of the many applications recently announced by a company in the space, it won’t be reflected here. But keep checking back—we’ll update this table whenever new ketamine-related applications become public, and we’ll continue to add new tables for other psychedelic compounds (along with our existing psilocybinMDMADMT5-MeO-DMTLSD, and ibogaine tables), and post new articles discussing IP in the psychedelics space in the months to come.

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Note: The applications and patents in the table include all U.S. and PCT filings with substantive claims to ketamine compositions, formulations, and methods of use or production (including to certain analogs and derivatives). Applications or patents filed in other jurisdictions, or those where ketamine is only referenced incidentally, are not included. Where a PCT application has already entered prosecution in the U.S., typically the U.S. application is included. Only one of a family of multiple applications is generally listed, unless the others have separate significance. “Priority date” refers to the earliest filing date on which an applicant can rely (typically, the filing date of a U.S. provisional); it is used to determine who filed first and what public information is “prior art.”