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Wednesday 06 February 2008

New schizophrenia treatment now available in Canada

By: CNW

Canadians with schizophrenia now have a new treatment option to manage their disease. Health Canada has approved ZELDOX (TM) (ziprasidone hydrochloride) for the treatment of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders, bringing an important additional option to manage this chronic complex mental illness, which is highly stigmatized and misunderstood.

New research from Léger Marketing reveals the extent of the stigma associated with the disease. Seventy per cent of Canadians feel that those who suffer from schizophrenia are not always treated the same way as people who are not afflicted with the disease. Even more surprising is the fact that among those Canadians who have been personally diagnosed or know someone who has schizophrenia, 44 per cent say they would be uncomfortable having a person with schizophrenia spend the weekend in their home.

"ZELDOX(TM) is a welcome new treatment option because it controls the symptoms of schizophrenia and appears to cause less weight gain than other antipsychotic medications. Weight gain can increase the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. These side effects are often distressing and stigmatizing and are a major reason that patients go off their medication," said Dr. Ashok Malla, Director of the Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montreal, Quebec. "ZELDOX(TM) has demonstrated an excellent safety and efficacy profile as demonstrated through over a decade of research and patient experience."

The Léger survey revealed the low level of awareness among Canadians about the impact of the side effects associated with many medications that are used to treat schizophrenia. Only one in ten Canadians (10 per cent) believes that those with schizophrenia stop their treatment due to weight gain and other side effects. Surprisingly, 57 per cent of Canadians who have been or know someone that has been diagnosed with schizophrenia believe that people with the illness stop their treatment because they are well enough.

In Canada, one in every hundred persons lives with schizophrenia - over 300,000 Canadians in all. It is characterized by symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, unusual suspiciousness, becoming withdrawn, and becoming depressed or anxious. People who suffer from schizophrenia have difficulty performing tasks that require abstract memory and sustained attention.

Mary K. was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001. Frustrated by the fact that the first treatment she took caused her to gain upwards of 20 pounds, she found herself feeling exhausted and hungry all the time and she was unable to hold down a job. When her psychiatrist suggested that she participate in a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of ziprasidone, she was enthusiastic at the prospect of trying a new treatment. Almost immediately after taking ZELDOX(TM), Mary was able to lose the weight she had gained and feel more energized. She was able to go back to school, earn a diploma and obtain a steady job. She has now been taking ZELDOX(TM) for the treatment and management of her schizophrenia for the past five years through a clinical trial.

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