New Era In The Treatment Of Schizophrenia Envisioned

WESTPORT, May 27 (Reuters) - "We're at a time when the treatment of
schizophrenia is undergoing a substantial and important change," Dr.
Stephen Marder of UCLA told conference participants at the meeting of the
American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology held last week in New

With the introduction of Risperdal (risperidone) in 1994, the treatment of schizophrenia
entered a new era, Dr. Marder said, and he expects several new drugs in
this class to receive FDA approval or to begin clinical testing soon.
"These drugs are more effective in the management of the negative symptoms
associated with schizophrenia," Dr. Marder told Reuters Health. "Symptoms
such as disinterest, apathy and withdrawal are alleviated. This means that
rehabilitation and counseling are more effective. Patients are much more
motivated on [drugs like Risperdal (risperidone)]. That may mean that the long-term
social outcome will be better."

Dr. Marder noted that the so-called "positive" symptoms of schizophrenia -
hallucinations and delusions, etc. - are more indicative of the severity
of disease, while the presence of negative symptoms are more indicative of
prognosis. He commented that the newer drugs are not significantly more
effective than older drugs such as haloperidol in the control of positive
symptoms of schizophrenia.

Dr. Marder noted that the newer drugs such as clozapine have a much wider
margin of safety than the older drugs, and they cause fewer extrapyramidal
symptoms. Whether they induce less severe symptoms of tardive dyskinesia
has yet to be determined.

Dr. Marder told Reuters Health that the drug olanzapine is currently under
consideration at the FDA, a new application has just been submitted for
sertindole and the newest drug to enter clinical trials, olanzapine, is
"...showing great promise."