Four-year data show risk of relapse is halved in Risperdal patients compared to haloperidol

21 September 2003 Prague - Treatment with RISPERDAL(risperidone), a newer- generation, 'atypical' antipsychotic medication, significantly reduces the risk of relapse in individuals experiencing their first episode of schizophrenia, even when using the lowest possible dose. Findings from the "FutuRis" study, the longest-term study in this population ever conducted, were presented today for the first time at the 16th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP)1,2,3.

"The results from this study are very encouraging, because schizophrenia is a life-long illness. This new research shows that if we can intervene effectively right at the start of the illness, upon the first psychotic episode, we may be able to prevent some of the consequences of this very debilitating disease,' said Professor Robin Emsley, MD, core investigator and head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. "We know that every time a person with schizophrenia relapses, it makes recovery slower and increases the frequency of future hospitalisation. The illness can also become more difficult to treat and -- in some cases -- resistant to treatment altogether. Therefore, it is essential that we minimise the number of relapses as much as possible early in the course of the disease."

The randomised, double-blind study followed 535 people with schizophrenia who took between 1-8 mg of risperidone or haloperidol per day for one to four years. It found that of the approximately three-quarters of patients who went into remission, 42 percent of those taking risperidone later relapsed, versus more than half (55 percent) for the older, conventional drug haloperidol. Haloperidol was chosen as the comparator because it is the most widely prescribed of the conventional antipsychotics. The study also showed that risperidone patients were relapse-free for more than twice as long as those receiving haloperidol (an average of more than 15

Contact: Roseann Ward
Resolute Communications

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