LATEST TREATMENT FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA OFFERS NEEDED ADDITIONAL OPTION TO FIGHT DIFFICULT-TO-TREAT DISEASE
MONTREAL, QUEBEC – (October 6, 2009) – A new treatment option for Canadians with schizophrenia, ABILIFY™ (aripiprazole), is now available in Canada. For those living with this lifelong disease who may be struggling with a treatment that doesn't work for them or with side effects that are difficult to tolerate, ABILIFY offers efficacy and good safety and tolerability with limited impact on weight, blood sugar and lipids – significant clinical benefits that may help patients stay on treatment longer.
“Schizophrenia is a complex disease that is often challenging to treat. As a physician, the main challenge I face is that patients stop taking their medications and relapse,” said Dr. Ruth Baruch, psychiatrist and director of the community program at Toronto East General Hospital. “Weight gain is particularly important. Two thirds of patients will stop taking their medication because of weight gain. Numerous studies have indicated that ABILIFY has the advantage of causing fewer long-term side effects such as lower weight gain and less increase in cholesterol. Where I think this will translate in the real world is improving adherence and patients will be more likely to stay on medication in the long-term.”
Schizophrenia is a lifelong disease and treatment plays an important role in its management. ABILIFY is the latest medication in Canada to treat schizophrenia. It has not only been shown to improve day-to-day functioning and lessen social withdrawal, clinical studies show it does so with less impact on patient weight or other metabolic factors such as cholesterol, lipids and blood sugar levels. ABILIFY is effective in improving a range of so-called “positive” symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions, as well as the “negative” symptoms of the disease, such as lack of motivation and emotional withdrawal, that prevent many people with schizophrenia from leading full and fulfilling lives.
One person who knows the immense burden schizophrenia puts on those directly affected by it is Brian Good of Oakville, Ontario. His brother, Eric, was struck with the devastating disease when he was in his early 20s and at university, primed to advance in education and his adult life. Brian remembers what it was like growing up. “My brother's behaviour at home was very disruptive. He would cycle between not being on medication and do strange things like hitchhike across the country,” said Brian. “I lost a brother and my children lost an uncle. If there had been better treatment options back then, our family might be very different.” Now in his 50s, Eric lives in a group home in Gravenhurst, Ontario.
The Schizophrenia Society of Canada believes that patient access to new treatment advances is critical to making it possible for people with schizophrenia to control their illness and improve their quality of life. "Schizophrenia is treatable and recovery of a quality of life is possible. There can never be too many treatments options for schizophrenia,” says Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. “Given the complexity of schizophrenia and psychosis, the challenges people face in recovering and finding the right medication that supports the recovery process, it's vital for patients to have as many options available as possible. For this reason we believe all therapies approved by Health Canada should be made available to patients by all drug plans in Canada, public and private.”
Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis, meaning it interferes with a person's ability to interpret what is real or not. It causes patients to have “positive” symptoms, including hearing voices and having hallucinations, and “negative” symptoms, such as emotional withdrawal and apathy. Symptoms vary widely among patients. An estimated 335,000 Canadians have schizophrenia, most diagnosed in their late teens or early adulthood. There is no cure and it is a lifelong disease. The primary goal of treatment is to provide relief of both positive and negative symptoms. With such control, people can live full and productive lives. Unfortunately, treatment discontinuation among patients with schizophrenia remains high at 40 to 50%. Because symptoms, individuals, and medications differ so greatly, there is always a need for new and effective treatment options.
ABILIFY™ (aripiprazole) is a new treatment in the class of atypical antipsychotic medications, available by prescription only. It has been approved by Health Canada for the treatment of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders in adults. It is also indicated for the acute treatment of manic or mixed episodes of bipolar I disorder in adults, alone or in combination wimixedth lithium or divalproex sodium.
ABILIFY is the first and only dopamine and serotonin partial agonist. It acts in specific areas of the brain where levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are too high or too low and appears to balance the levels of these chemicals.
ABILIFY has undergone a rigorous clinical development program and has been evaluated for safety in 13,543 adult patients.
About The Schizophrenia Society of Canada
The Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC), founded in 1979, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for those affected by schizophrenia and psychosis through education, support programs, public policy and research. The Society works with 10 provincial societies in a federation model to: raise awareness and educate the public in order to reduce stigma and discrimination; support families and individuals; advocate for legislative change; and support research through the SSC Foundation and other independent efforts.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada
Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, a global pharmaceutical and related health care products company whose mission is to extend and enhance human life. Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada is a leading provider of medicines to fight cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS), nervous system diseases and serious mental illness. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the BMY symbol (NYSE:BMY). Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada's operations are headquartered in Montréal, Québec.