The goals of schizophrenia treatment are manifold and focus on improving the patient’s ability to function, prevent relapse and minimize symptoms. Although there is no cure, treatments that work well are available. Outlook for people with schizophrenia continues to flourish as many improve enough to lead independent, satisfying lives.
Long-acting injectable antipsychotics lead to better outcomes than oral antipsychotics
A UCLA study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, discovered that people who took a long-acting injectable antipsychotic medication, one given every two weeks, had a lower risk for the symptoms returning than people who took the daily medication as a pill.
The researchers followed 83 patients, recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. Half were given the daily oral form and the others were given the long-acting injectable form. During the 12-month period, just 5 percent of those taking the injectable medication had their psychotic symptoms return, versus 33 percent of those taking the pill.
“Oral antipsychotic medication requires daily recommitment to treatment, which is hampered by patients’ poor awareness of the need for continued treatment. Long-acting injectable antipsychotic medication has the potential to control psychotic symptoms substantially better than short-acting medication,” said study researcher Kenneth L. Subotnik, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles,
Team-based treatment better for first episode psychosis
John M. Kane, M.D. is the professor and chairman, department of psychiatry at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine and the Zucker Hillside Hospital. The research is published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Alongside his team, Kane enrolled 404 individuals with first-episode psychosis in the study. Patients treated at clinics using the NAVIGATE program, a coordinated specialty care treatment program, remained in treatment longer. They also experienced greater improvement in their symptoms, relationships, quality of life and involvement in work and school compared with other patients. Treatment was most effective for people who received care soon after psychotic symptoms begin.
Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Services and Intervention Research at NIMH said, “Dr. Kane’s work is having an immediate impact on clinical practice in the U.S. and is setting a new standard of care.”
New schizophrenia treatments may be effective for subgroups of patients
Mounting evidence indicates that disturbances in the brain’s glutamate pathway contribute to symptoms of schizophrenia. Thus, the glutamate pathway has become the target of a number of new drug therapies.
Re-evaluated data from previous clinical trials of a compound called pomaglumetad methionil suggested that a more targeted population of patients who are early-in-disease or those who have not been exposed to other antipsychotic medications may produce a statistically significant response.
The authors of the current study, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, concluded that future efficacy trials may require the identification of subgroups of patient populations.
“As we develop drugs that target the primary brain pathology in schizophrenia, it is likely that the differences between patients are going to play a bigger role in determining optimal treatment,” said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.
Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric disorder that affects approximately one out of every 100 people worldwide. The impact is lifelong. Sovereign aims to stay updated on all the latest developments in schizophrenia research in order to bring its patients a quality, evidence-based program that ensures their successful reintegration into society. Our priority is to be able to see our patients live a fulfilling life. It is your right and our duty. If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, reach out to one of our representatives right away by calling our 24/7 helpline.
Written by Sana Ahmed, Sovereign Health Group writer