Janssen Program May Help or Hurt Risperdal Users

By D.J. Jaffe

What is the "Person to Person Program"

With much fanfare, Janssen Pharmaceutica is announcing it's free "Person to Person" program for respiridol users. Ostensibly, the purpose of the program is to help respirdol users avoid rehospitalization. Enrolees in the program (and their families) will have access to a 7 day a week, 15 hour a day 'warm line' that makes referrals to 'treatment teams' and provides info on community resources such as medicaid, SSI, support groups, housing, voc rehab, etc." The Person to Person team wants to work as the focal point for whatever services (doctors, social workers, nurses, etc.) the individual is recieving. Enrollees can also receive reminder calls about appointments and have the program contact the pharmacist to make sure the prescription was picked up. Individuals will also recieve health care coverage guides, a diary for recording the medication regimen, coupons, and other mailings.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of "Person to Person"?

The advantage is that now there is someone else taking an interest in helping the consumer. In addition, all the services above are beneficial. But to a large extent, they are services AMI chapters and caretakers already provide. And I question how much cooperation this service will get from prescribing doctors, social workers, and others. So while they are slickly packaged, I am not sure how well the system will actually work. And I have other concerns about it. Let's face it: the reason Janssen is starting this program is to keep more folks on their medicine. That can have consequences. The "person to person counselors" will abandon you if respiridol does not work for you and you switch. They may even pressure you not to switch in spite of the fact there is one clinical study comparing Zyprexa and Risperdal that concluded Zyprexa was "statistically significantly more likely than risperidone to evoke greater initial therapeutic response and less likely to be associated with relapse during maintenance treatment." But this study is subject to bias because it was conducted by a clinical research physician of the manufacturer of Zyprexa (Lilly).

In addition, you will be giving your name and address to a pharmaceutical company with may or may not use that list appropriately. For example, I already receive mass mailings from certain pharmaceutical companies which got name and want me to 'support' certain legislation that interests them. I do not have enough info to know if the legislation they want me to support is in my or their interest. If Jaansen comes out with a new medicine, you can bet you will be heavily marketed to. Many of us remember when Sandoz bundled over-priced blood monitoring into the cost of clozaril and had to be sued to stop. I don't know if this effort by Jaansen is really going to help or hurt.

How to get more information.

If you are on risperdal, you may want to learn more about the program, ask questions, and come to your own conclusions. You will note that the materials have NAMIs name all over them (something I have discussed on numerous occassions with the NAMI Board), but NAMI has a policy not to endorse specific treatments or practices and that includes this one. So don't let the NAMI name fool you. Think it through yourself, and see if it is for you. It may very well be. Or it may not be. You decide. For more free information about this free program, call 1 800 376 8282.

DJ Jaffe

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