Schizophrenia affects ~1% of the population, representing an estimated 3 million Americans
Patients suffering from schizophrenia experience both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include psychotic behaviors such as hallucinations and delusions that vary in severity. Negative symptoms are disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors such as lack of expression and lack of ability to begin or sustain planned activity. The average age of onset is between 16 and 30, and approximately 10% of patients with schizophrenia die of suicide.
Pharmacotherapy is used for both acute and maintenance treatment in Schizophrenia. First-line therapy is with anti-psychotic medications, preferably an atypical antipsychotic, such as aripiprazole, due to their improved side effect profiles. The goals of pharmacologic treatment during an acute psychotic episode are to prevent harm, control disturbed behavior, and reduce the severity of psychosis and associated symptoms. Reducing stress on the patient and minimizing the likelihood of relapse are the goals of treatment during the maintenance phase.
Unmet Medical Needs
While atypical anti-psychotics have an improved safety profile over typical antipsychotics, the compliance remains low due to the nuances of this patient population. The severity of the patients’ symptoms, their level of education, attitudes and insight into their illness, and substance abuse are some of the patient-related factors that influence compliance. Environmental factors such as social support and living situation can also lead to reduced compliance to treatment, which can result in worsening of symptoms, relapse suicidal attempts, repeated emergency room or hospital visits, and poor functional outcomes. Reducing the frequency of dosing could improve medication adherence and reduce the risk of relapsing into a dangerous psychotic episode.