University of Melbourne Professor Graham Barrett told the ABC he felt there was a conflict of interest between his research work and Aura Medical's push for profits.
Aura Medical Corporation has set up shop in Sydney and Melbourne selling unapproved prescription drugs to severely depressed and needy people. They are offering take home packages of up to 10 doses of Ketamine.
From the Aura websiteAura Medical Corporation Pty Ltd is an Australian Medical Group specializing in treating patients with treatment resistant depression. Our doctors have expertise in helping patients through a process of assessment, counselling and introducing effective strategies for treatment.Aura Medical can help when a patient has not responded to conventional antidepressant treatments.This is a breakthrough first in Australia with Aura Medical Corporation bringing the new strategies for patients with “treatment resistant depression”.Doctors at Aura Medical Corporation use a pharmacological approach to treatment-resistant depression which is widely, and successfully, used in USA and some European countries.Of course our doctors adhere to the strictest privacy provisions of the National Health Act.If you, a loved one or someone you know is suffering from this level of pain and depression........
So what is Ketamine?
Ketamine is used by medical practitioners and vets as an anaesthetic. It's also used illegally by drug addicts. It can produce hallucinogenic effects and cause a person to see, hear, smell, feel or taste things that aren't there.
It's sold illegally as a white crystalline powder but can also be made into tablets and pills or dissolved in liquid.
It can be swallowed, snorted or injected and sometimes smoked with cannabis or tobacco. The effects can be felt within 30 seconds if injected, 5-10 minutes if snorted and 20 minutes if swallowed and effects last for approximately 45 to 90 minutes.
Whistle blowers and former patients report that "client liaison officers" and managers are pressuring patients to sign up to the treatment which costs up to $1,200 for a four week course of 8 injections.
Although several clinical depression trials have shown a dramatic short-term improvement in mood, as yet, ketamine has not been approved for the treatment of depression.
Jennette Jenkin was told the company was running a "medical trial" when she visited Aura Medical Clinic in Sydney this year.
"When they told me how much the injections were - they would have cost me $300 a week - which I could not afford, they said they would give me a discount and only cost $260."
Desperate for help, she signed up for 8 injections and was taught how to draw the liquid into the syringes. The doctor was not interested in getting information about her condition from her GP nor did anyone call her to follow up on her progress at home.
When she finished the course, the doctor said it would be dangerous to stop the drug suddenly and she would need a further 6 injections, but she couldn't afford any more.
"She (the doctor) seemed to be pushing it, even my husband felt the same way, I guess because when she mentioned The Black Dog Institute were doing trials as well, I thought it was legit" Ms Jenkin said.
But the Black Dog Institute issued the following statement.
Last month, the company's Medical Director Professor Graham Barrett, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, told the ABC he had resigned from the position, citing a conflict of interest between his work as a medical researcher and the company's profit-driven approach.