Long-Acting Schizophrenia Treatments

schizophreniaSchizophrenia is a condition that is characterized by an individual experiencing hallucinations and/or delusions that are sometimes of a persecutory nature.[1] Often, schizophrenia is first diagnosed in young adulthood, more often seen in men compared to women.1 Although the condition is severe, it is a relatively rare mental illness that affects less than 0.5 percent of the population.1

Schizophrenia has historically presented treatment challenges for both the patient and the treatment provider.1 Many medicines prescribed are not always well-tolerated and sometime cause significant side effects.1 However, untreated schizophrenia results in poor quality of life, with many unable to take care of the basic needs for life, such as food, shelter, and providing for oneself.1

Traditional treatment for schizophrenia has relied on taking oral antipsychotic medicines on a regular basis.1 Antipsychotics taken between one and three times per day have proven to be effective in a large percentage of those who take them.1 However, when a patient who has been stabilized on antipsychotic medicines feel better, many discontinue their use, which leads to a return of symptoms and deterioration of quality of life.1

There may be a new, more expensive, alternative treatment for schizophrenia—an injection of a medicine once per week or every few weeks.1 Referred to as Long-Acting Injectables (LAIs), these medicines do not require the daily effort to remember to take medicine.1 Also, as they require an appointment with a professional to obtain, it ensures regular contact with the treatment provider.1

LAIs are an important addition to address the issue of long-term treatment adherence in patients with schizophrenia.1 When these patients relapse, they often require hospitalization as they are at a high risk of suicide.1 Also, their symptoms may return even worse.1 Therefore, reducing relapse rates in patients with schizophrenia is important.1

Many LAIs include both antipsychotics and atypical antipsychotics.1 For instance, the antipsychotic medicine fluphenazine decanoate is available as an injectable, as well as the atypical antipsychotics risperidone and paliperidone palmitate.1

Research on LAIs have shown promising results.1 In a study of 652 subjects, researchers found significant improvement during treatment compared with a placebo.1 Other studies have shown that the newer atypical antipsychotics injectables are just as effective.1

Long-acting treatments are a valuable addition to the variety of treatment tools used to treat schizophrenia successfully.1 Although they are not appropriate for everyone, it is an option for those who are having a hard time maintaining their treatment efforts with traditional psychiatric medicines.1

[1] Grohol, J. (2014). Long-Acting Treatments for Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/long-acting-treatments-for-schizophrenia/00019513a

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