Alternate-Day Antipsychotic Maintenance Dosing Shown Adequate

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Sep 28 – The widely held view that maintenance treatment of stabilized patients with schizophrenia must be administered every day seems to be refuted by a new Canadian study. The researchers found that patients taking antipsychotic meds every other day were no more likely to relapse than those on a daily dosing schedule.

“The findings of the present investigation speak to several issues,” Dr. Gary Remington explained in response to emailed questions. “The first relates to the long-standing notion that antipsychotics must be administered continuously to maintain response.”

“We know D2 blockade is central to antipsychotic response, although more recent findings suggest that sustained blockade is not required,” he continued. “In fact, there is evidence that continuous blockade may be linked to behavioral tolerance and possibly decreased efficacy, as well as increased risk of certain side effects (e.g. tardive dyskinesia). Thus, there may actually be advantages to a strategy such as extended dosing over and above decreased antipsychotic exposure and economic savings.”

Reported by Bob Saunders
Reuters Health Information

Submitted by Anna

New health-care law improves coverage for mental illnesses

Two federal laws that provide better insurance coverage for more people with mental health and substance abuse conditions are just beginning to take effect, and advocates describe the changes as a huge win for consumers that will greatly improve treatment.

As anyone who has ever sought help for addiction, depression or any other mental illness knows, insurance coverage is often skimpier than for a physical malady. Plans typically limit the number of therapy visits they’ll pay for, and they may also impose separate deductibles for mental health and substance abuse services and require higher out-of-pocket contributions from patients as well.

Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which took effect this year, the mental health and substance abuse benefits that a health plan provides have to be just as generous as its coverage for medical and surgical treatments. The law does away with different co-payments, deductibles and visit restrictions.

“These financial equalizers will be very helpful to families that have not been able to access care before,” says Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association.

Plans are not required to provide mental health or substance abuse coverage, however, and they can also determine that they will not cover specific disorders. The regulations on parity went into effect July 1 , so in most plans the changes become effective when they renew their coverage after that date.

The parity law – which was championed by former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. – doesn’t apply to plans at companies with 50 or fewer employees or to individual health insurance policies. The new health-care overhaul law, however, will pick up the slack. Under the law, health plans sold through the state-based insurance exchanges that will begin offering coverage in 2014 must include mental health and addiction benefits, and the benefits must be on a par with a plan’s medical benefits. The exchanges will be open to individuals and to small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

Reported by Michelle Andrews
Washington Post

Submitted by Anna

“Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia”

A compelling documentary about schizophrenia which is coming to public television stations across the country beginning October 1, in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 3-9, 2010).

“Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia”is a look at one woman’s personal journey to reconnect with her father, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, after more than a decade of hiding from him and being unlisted in the phonebook. Delaney Ruston, a physician and documentarian, offers a rare real-world look into the myriad ways schizophrenia impacts individuals and families.

Schizophrenia is a heavily stigmatized disease – often fueled by misinformed characterizations seen in the movies or in sensational news stories – but we feel strongly that Delaney’s film can help to dispel myths and spark conversations that empower those touched by schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses, to be their own best advocates.

In recognition of airing of “Unlisted,” and Mental Illness Awareness Week, we would like to offer an interview with Delaney Ruston to discuss her film and the importance of bringing greater awareness and understanding surrounding schizophrenia. In addition, Dr. Marvin Swartz, Division Head, Social and Community Psychiatry, Duke University, is also available to discuss schizophrenia from a medical standpoint. We feel that this topic will be interesting, timely and relevant to your readers.

The film’s trailer is available for download at ( / User: unlisted / Password: trailer). To learn more about Unlisted and for information on local airings, visit