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Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist used for anesthesia in humans and animals. By inducing dissociative anesthesia, ketamine provides pain relief, sedation, and amnesia, without depressing respiratory functions like many opioid analgesics do. By contrast, ketamine actually increases heart function, blood pressure, and bronchodilation. It is frequently used in emergency surgeries in war zones and for people with severe injuries, traumatic shock, and head injuries, for which maintained or increased blood pressure is vital. Ketamine is also a favored anesthetic for patients with asthma or other respiratory difficulty, and for children because of its low addiction liability compared to other anesthetics. Ketamine is among the drugs on the World Health Organization’s list of Essential Medicines.

Beyond anesthesia, ketamine has shown promise as an antidepressant via intravenous infusions of the racemic mixture of this arylcyclohexylamine derivative, although it has not been approved for this purpose by the US FDA. However, the United States FDA has approved a nasal spray of the S-ketamine variant for treatment of major depression. While the mechanism of action and long-term effects of ketamine treatment for depression and bipolar disorders are not yet understood, studies are ongoing. 

Recreationally, under the street names K, Special K, Vitamin K, Kit Kat, Jet, and Purple, ketamine is used as a dissociative hallucinogen. Subanesthetic doses induce a state of distorted perception of sights and sounds, hallucinations, immobility, and amnesia, known as a “K-hole.” It is also frequently used to induce passivity, pliability, dissociation, and amnesia as a date rape drug.

Rapid testing for ketamine in body fluids can be extremely valuable to law-enforcement and medical responders in cases of ketamine-induced comas and victims of rape with ketamine-induced amnesia. Pyxis Laboratories manufactures and distributes components for rapid tests, including ketamine-BSA antigen conjugates and ketamine antibodies. Pyxis is renowned for the reproducibility and stability of their products, including antigen conjugates and antibodies for many drugs of abuse, including amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, cocaine, ketamine, PCP, opioids, and others. For a complete catalog of Pyxis products or if you have any questions, please contact: