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NATIONAL EXPERTS CALL FOR DRAMATIC CHANGES IN APPROACH TO CARE OF SCHIZOPHRENIA

 NATIONAL EXPERTS CALL FOR DRAMATIC CHANGES
 IN APPROACH TO CARE OF SCHIZOPHRENIA
 WASHINGTON, May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Representatives from government, academia and a national patient advocacy group yesterday called for psychiatrists to change the way they treat schizophrenia to bring about improved patient care and reduced hospitalization costs.
 "We now have the means to eliminate the majority of all cases of schizophrenic relapse in this country," said William M. Glazer, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. Glazer chaired the symposium sponsored by McNeil Pharmaceutical entitled, "Psychotic Relapse: A Multisystems Perspective," held here yesterday at the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting. The symposium was presented in association with the Yale University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.
 "For the first time, we have begun to understand the significance of pooling independent bodies of knowledge about medication, psychosocial interventions and mental health economics into a multisystem to prevent schizophrenics from relapsing, rather than isolate only one aspect of schizophrenia treatment at a time," Glazer said. "Now that we realize the value of this approach, we need to apply it more broadly in the clinic to keep these patients out of the hospital, off the streets and in functional community settings," he added.
 Toll on Families, Finances.
 "Approximately one percent of the population will develop schizophrenia during their lifetime, and about 2.5 million people are suffering form the illness at any given time," said Nancy Domenici, a member of the board of directors of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill ("NAMI"). "The value of the multisystems approach to us is that it recognizes for the first time that schizophrenia is a tragedy for the family as a whole, and takes into account the significant roles family members can play as allies in the treatment process," Domenici remarked.
 Schizophrenia is equally burdening to society. Through current independent systems of treatment, patients' disease courses often remain uncontrolled -- as many as 50 percent of schizophrenic patients suffer a relapse within the first year after their most recent episode. Current estimates indicate that 70 percent of hospitalized schizophrenic patients in the U.S. are readmissions, at a cost of up to $100,000 each, for one year of hospitalization. With schizophrenics occupying about 25 percent of all hospital beds, and accounting for 40 percent of all long-term care days, the cost of the disease is estimated to be between $11 billion and $20 billion annually.
 "We can no longer stand by and let this trend continue," said Pete Domenici, U.S. Senator from New Mexico, who is well-known for his support of mental health issues. "We must develop a new approach to treat the severely mentally ill in a manner that is both clinically and economically more effective. We must also work to ensure that coverage for mental illness is included in the reform of our nation's health care financing and delivery system," he said. " We need a new approach -- those suffering form severe mental illness and their families deserve it, and our failing health care financing system demands it," Domenici added.
 The Role of Medication
 Central to the success of a synchronized treatment approach to schizophrenia is the prevention of relapse, concurred several program participants. John M. Davis, M.D., director of research at Illinois State Psychiatric Institute and Gilman professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois, presented new data from a multicentered controlled study on the use of depot neuroleptic medications. These medications can safely, cost effectively and dramatically reduce relapse rates in chronic schizophrenia patients, particularly those who have difficulty complying with oral medication.
 "Depot neuroleptics -- a long-acting form of medication given by injection each month -- are currently underutilized in this country," Davis reported. "Our recent research findings on depot therapy, coupled with new knowledge about psychosocial interventions and economic factors, have given us a powerful tool to prevent schizophrenic relapse," he added. "Now it's time to apply the multisystem more broadly in the real world -- the policy implications could be tremendous."
 Joining these authorities in the discussion of the multisystems approach were Program Co-Chairman Malcolm B. Bowers, Jr., M.D., professor of psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine; Mary Jane R. England, M.D., president, Washington Business Group on Health, and treasurer of the American Psychiatric Association; Leonard I. Stein, M.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School; Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., director of psychiatric research, Hillside Hospital Division of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and Gerard Hogarty, MSW, professor of psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh.
 About the Sponsor
 Headquartered in Spring House, Pa., McNeil Pharmaceutical is an affiliate of Johnson & Johnson, the world's most comprehensive healthcare company. McNeil markets a depot neuroleptic medication indicated for the treatment of chronic schizophrenia.
 -0- 5/4/92
 /CONTACT: Clare Castaldo of McNeil Pharmaceutical, 908-218-6116/ CO: McNeil Pharmaceutical ST: Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:


TQ-LR -- NY001 -- 5777 05/04/92 06:00 EDT
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Date:May 4, 1992
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