New Study Investigates Ketamine as A Potential Treatment for COVID-19

Ketamine may have a new role in combating the “cytokine storm” associated with serious Covid-19 infections.

Ketamine, a safe and effective anesthetic medication developed in the 1960’s, well known for its ability to rapidly improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD is finding its way to the front line of the global fight to develop an effective treatment for COVID-19.

In addition to its ability to treat mood disorders and chronic pain, ketamine has long been known to reduce serious forms inflammation and was used in the 1990’s to successfully treat critically ill patients suffering from the near uniformly fatal rabies virus. Now researchers from the Beaumont Healthcare System are using it in combination with Naltrexone to potentially help those with COVID-19 infections.

Below is a reprint of the press release they recently issued, it may be viewed directly at:


Monday, May 04, 2020

Beaumont researchers hopeful medications can reduce severity of COVID-19 and save lives

Researchers at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak have begun enrolling patients in a new clinical study aimed at treating COVID-19 patients with two common drugs – naltrexone and ketamine. It’s called SINK COVID-19, or the Study of Immunomodulation using Naltrexone and Ketamine for COVID-19.

The single center, randomized study is only for patients, 18 years and older, hospitalized at Beaumont, Royal Oak for the treatment of COVID-19 meeting specific criteria.

Beaumont researchers are hopeful the two drugs can lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms by reducing the early and later side effects of the virus.

“There is an urgent need to develop new treatments for COVID-19 using easily available and affordable medications,” said Dr. Matthew Sims, director, Infectious Disease Research, Beaumont Health and study principal investigator. “Ideal new treatments for COVID-19 would help halt the progression of the disease in patients with mild cases prior to the need for ventilators, and provide a rescue treatment for patients with severe cases of the virus.”

The United States Food and Drug Administration's Investigational New Drug program granted Beaumont researchers permission to start this clinical study.

Dr. Annas Aljassem, study co-investigator, said, “We need a two-pronged strategy to combat COVID-19. Low doses of naltrexone, a drug approved for treating alcoholism and opiate addiction, as well as ketamine, a drug approved as an anesthetic, may be able to interrupt the inflammation that causes the worst COVID-19 symptoms.”

Low-dose naltrexone has been used for the treatment of pain and inflammation in multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia and other pain conditions. Ketamine, an anesthetic drug, shows anti-inflammatory effects at multiple early steps in the inflammatory process.

“The addition of these two medications, as immunomodulators, to the treatment regimen of patients with COVID-19 has potential to decrease the severity of this disease by reducing the autoimmune, hyperinflammatory stages of the virus which is destructive to normal tissue and, when unchecked, rapidly leads to death,” Dr. Sims said.

The study was conceived and designed by Dr. Aljassem and Dr. Sims. Investigative team members also include Dr. Carl Lauter and Dr. Levi Hall.

The Applebaum Family Foundation, Beaumont Foundation, along with Suzanne and Deborah Tyner are supporting this study.

For more information on the study, go to, identifier: NCT04365985.
Ketamine and naltrexone, two widely-used drugs formulated in the 1960s, are finding their way to the front line of the global fight to develop a cure for COVID-19

Beaumont Health has announced the launch of a new clinical study aimed at treating COVID-19 patients using naltrexone and ketamine. It also received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to launch the new clinical trial. This company is Michigan’s largest healthcare system based on revenue and inpatient admissions.

The study is called “SINK COVID-19” and will be conducted at the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Oakland County. SINK stands for the "Study of Immunomodulation using Naltrexone and Ketamine" for COVID-19. It has been designed as a randomized study for patients 18 years and older.

Beaumont researchers are hopeful both drugs can lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms by reducing the early and later side effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus. They intend to use the drugs as immunomodulators added to the treatment regimen of patients with COVID-19.


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In the meantime, remember that we are all experiencing the same hardship — which means we can understand what others are going through — and it is important that we all try to be there for each other, so we can all have a faster route to empathy and resilience.