Neurological Adverse Events Associated With Esketamine: A Disproportionality Analysis for Signal Detection Leveraging the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System
Esketamine was approved for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression in 2019. After the approval of esketamine, numerous concerns have been raised regarding its long-term safety and tolerability. A previous systematic pharmacovigilance study on esketamine-related adverse events (AEs) was published in 2020; however, it has not been updated 2 years later. The primary aim of this study was to detect and characterize neurological safety signals of esketamine to partially update the knowledge in this field using the FDA pharmacovigilance database. Reporting odds ratio (ROR) was calculated for esketamine-related neurological AEs from 2019 to 2021 with a signal considered when the lower limit of the 95% confidence interval (CI) of ROR (ROR 025 ) exceeded one. Severe and non-severe cases were compared using an independent samples t -test or chi-squared (χ2) test, and a rating scale was used to prioritize the signals. The database contained 720 cases of esketamine-associated neurological AEs, with 21 signals detected, ranging from a ROR 025 of 1.05 (disturbance in attention) to 204.00 (sedation). 16 latest neurological AEs emerged in the second year of marketing approval of esketamine, with eight signals detected. The associations between esketamine and nervous system disorders persisted when stratifying by sex, age, and reporter type, whereas the spectrum of neurological AEs differed in stratification regimens. Esketamine dosage, antidepressant polypharmacy, or co-prescription with benzodiazepines affected AEs severity ( t = 2.41, p = 0.017; χ2 = 6.75, p = 0.009; and χ2 = 4.10, p = 0.043; respectively), while age and sex did not ( p = 0.053 and p = 0.397, respectively). Three signals were categorized as moderate clinical priority [i.e., sedation, dizziness, and dysgeusia (priority points 7, 5, and 5, respectively)], showing the same early failure type profiles. Notably, seven detected disproportionality signals were not previously detected in clinical trials. Although the majority of results were in line with those obtained in the previous study, there were discrepancies in the spectrum of neurological AEs and the effects of several risk factors on AEs severity among the two studies that should be recognized and managed early in clinical treatments.