First, ads for erectile dysfunction products available after a quick virtual “evaluation” flooded drivetime radio and social media platforms. Many took a humorous approach. Then spots started taking a darker turn to pitch the benefits of drugs—again, available for individuals specifically seeking a particular treatment—for mental health issues like anxiety and depression. As noted in a recent article from MedPage Today, the latest of those offers access to ketamine, a medication with proven benefits but also a poor track record when it comes to abuse and addiction. The piece quotes physicians, including psychiatrists, who caution that prescribing ketamine virtually may unreasonably risky. The concern is that online screening could be inadequate to determine which patients may actually benefit from using ketamine, and that there’s insufficient structure for follow-up. Urgent care clinicians who offer telehealth services may want to recommend in-person visits for any patients who log on seeking ketamine (and be cautious when encountering any patient seeking a specific medication either virtually or in person).

Ketamine Is the Latest Drug Being Pushed by Virtual Providers—and Psychiatrists Are Concerned