from The Washington Post via MSN
This doctor prescribes ketamine to thousands online. It’s all legal.
Story by Daniel Gilbert
In the past two years, Scott Smith has become licensed to practice medicine in almost every U.S. state for a singular purpose: treating depressed patients online and prescribing them ketamine.
The sedative, which is sometimes abused as a street drug, has shown promise in treating depression and anxiety. But instead of dispensing it in a clinic or under the strict protocols endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration, the South Carolina physician orders generic lozenges online for patients to take at home. He says this practice, though controversial, has benefited more than half of his 3,000 patients. “People are beating a path to my door,” he said in an interview.
Smith is part of a wave of doctors and telehealth start-ups capitalizing on the pandemic-inspired federal public health emergency declaration, which waived a requirement for health-care providers to see patients in person to prescribe controlled substances. The waiver has enabled Smith to build a national ketamine practice from his home outside Charleston — and fueled a boom among telehealth companies that have raised millions from investors.
As the urgency around covid-19 subsides, many expect the waiver to expire this spring. Companies are lobbying to extend it, and patients are bracing for a disruption to purely virtual care.