UK law and upcoming injectable drugs to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

Schizophrenia Update, December 2002

Marketletter, September 2, 2002

Manufacturers of antipsychotic drugs are set to launch longer-lasting injectable products which will help combat the problem of poor patient compliance in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, says new research from Datamonitor.

These drugs, which include Novartis' Zomaril (iloperidone) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Abilitat (aripiprazole), may have an important role if the UK government's bill to force treatment of community patents is passed, because they can ensure that the drugs are taken once every two weeks or possibly monthly, it adds.

However, the study warns that antipsychotic injections are likely to have mixed success. While they are particularly useful when treating patients in the acute phase of schizophrenia, the length of efficacy may be subject to controversy, as administering long-lasting medication decreases the ability of the patient to influence their own treatment, which is considered a patient right in most circumstances. In June 2002, the UK government proposed several changes in the treatment of the mentally ill, one of which will force patients in the community to undergo treatment without the need to be sectioned. In this situation, a long-acting antipsychotic would be particularly useful, says Datamonitor, because patients in the community could visit a health care professional every two weeks, or possibly every month, and compliance could be ensured.

A major issue in treating patients who suffer from spells of psychosis is that, once their health improves, they are allowed into the community. However, their chances of staying healthy are reduced because they are not obliged to continue taking medication, says the report, which adds that the introduction of longer-lasting drugs should increase patient compliance greatly and, as such, help to reduce this risk.

Nevertheless, Datamonitor believes the future treatment of these disorders will reside in receptor-specific compounds that can be combined into a tailor-made polytherapy to suit an individual's needs, with movement towards this type of therapy already being seen in early-stage programs.




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