A newly approved Schizophrenia Medication that’s injected just four times a year should help greatly reduce the times they go off their medications and relapse into a state of delusions, hallucinations and psychosis, a local psychiatrist says.Dr. Ranjith Chandrasena, chief of medical staff and chief of psychiatry at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, says he’s hoping to start some of his patients on Invega Trinza the moment it is available, probably some time in the fall.
“We have patients who are looking forward to receiving it,” the doctor said, following the announcement by pharmaceutical company Janssen this week that Health Canada had approved the antipsychotic drug. It’s the longest-acting drug available for schizophrenia, a serious mental illness that usually appears in early adulthood. An estimated 350,000 Canadians live with it — about one per cent of the population. Not taking their medication can have a terrible effect, on them and the health system. Chandrasena said the number of bed days in a hospital taken by schizophrenics is “very, very high, one of the highest of all illnesses, medical or psychiatry.”
He said the new drug is not really new. The breakthrough is how long it lasts — three months. That prevents the daily challenge of remembering to take your pills, which is even more of a problem with schizophrenics because the part of your brain that tells you you’re not well is affected very early in schizophrenics who are relapsing, he said. “So patients, they don’t know think they need the medication.”With the new drug (an earlier version of the drug lasts for one month), they simply have to show up for a four-times-a-year appointment and get an injection from a nurse, he said.
“When you have these 390 days before they begin to relapse, it gives us a tremendous opportunity to get them back into the system and prevent a full-blown relapse.”Schizophrenia Society of Canada CEO Chris Summerville said the significance of the new drug “is the ease of taking it.”You can go for three months without having to worry if you’ve taken your medication or not, he said. “In schizophrenia and any severe mental illness, the importance of medication is so paramount that to miss a dose or several doses can really mess up your system.” He said thousands of Canadians with schizophrenia will be greatly encouraged about the availability of the drug, which has been available in the U.S. for a year. He said there will be some people who’ll be fearful of needles.