by Eric Hughes, M.D., Ph.D.
Social perceptions of schizophrenia are often sensationalized and shrouded in stigmas that can lead to misconceptions and the spread of inaccurate information both outside and within the community. These negative or false beliefs can come from the media, cultural attitudes, and institutional biases (employers, police, and even the medical community), affecting patients’ treatment process and potentially preventing them from optimizing the management of their disease.
Among patients with schizophrenia, caregivers, and healthcare providers, a common misconception is that the use of long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics is only appropriate for severe cases. However, LAIs may be suitable for a variety of patients and even used in early treatment to allow for better adherence (the patient receives the medication as prescribed) and quality of life. For this reason, they are generally recommended for patients who prefer LAIs or who may have difficulty complying with a daily oral regimen.
Furthermore, relapse remains an ongoing and complex challenge faced by many patients with schizophrenia, with rates estimated between 50% and 92% globally. LAIs help maintain stable blood levels and have been shown to reduce the risk of relapse. Despite proven effectiveness, LAIs are only used as first-line treatment options in the US approximately 4% of the time.
It’s important to clear up some of the other common misconceptions about LAIs, including:
Misconception #1: The cost of treatment is out of our reach
A multitude of public and private insurance plans can help cover the cost of LAI antipsychotics, and in some cases the drug manufacturer may also provide assistance.
Misconception #2: Patients prefer oral treatment
In the healthcare community, oral medication is often the standard first-line treatment for schizophrenia, especially for first-episode patients, due to the assumption that patients prefer it. However, there are examples of patients with schizophrenia and their relatives with a favorable perception of LAI. Therefore, it is important that healthcare providers offer injectable LAIs as an option to their patients early in their treatment, allowing them to discuss the benefits and risks of different treatment options with their doctors to find the most appropriate one. for them.
Misconception #3: LAI treatment is a punishment
A psychotic episode can be a traumatic experience that may be compounded by the need for hospitalization, which could leave patients ambivalent about receiving medication involuntarily. Historically, this has created a negative perception of injectable treatments, but attitudes can change during periods of disease relapse and remission. Today’s LAIs offer treatment options for patients and physicians that can help meet the patient’s needs or preferences.
Raising awareness of these misconceptions has the potential to help patients and caregivers consider the most appropriate treatment option for them. If anyone believes that LAIs may be beneficial for their treatment, they are encouraged to start a conversation with their doctor.
Eric Hughes, M.D., Ph.D., is executive vice president of global research and development and chief medical officer of Teva Pharmaceuticals.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and external content does not necessarily reflect the views of Mental Health America.