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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1998 Feb;8(1):55-66.

Guidelines for depot antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia. European Neuropsychopharmacology Consensus Conference in Siena, Italy.

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Department of Psychiatry, Hillside Hospital, Division of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Glen Oaks, NY 11004, USA.


These guidelines for depot antipsychotic treatment in schizophrenia were developed during a two-day consensus conference held on July 29 and 30, 1995 in Siena, Italy. Depot antipsychotic medications were developed in the 1960s as an attempt to improve the long-term treatment of schizophrenia (and potentially other disorders benefiting from long-term antipsychotic medication). Depot drugs as distinguishable from shorter acting intramuscularly administered agents can provide a therapeutic concentration of at least a seven day duration in one parenteral dose. The prevention of relapse in schizophrenia remains an enormous public health challenge worldwide and improvements in this area can have tremendous impact on morbidity, mortality and quality of life, as well as direct and indirect health care costs. Though there has been debate as to what extent depot (long-acting injectable) antipsychotics are associated with significantly fewer relapses and rehospitalizations, in our view when all of the data from individual trials and metaanalyses are taken together, the findings are extremely compelling in favor of depot drugs. However in many countries throughout the world fewer than 20% of individuals with schizophrenia receive these medications. The major advantage of depot antipsychotics over oral medication is facilitation of compliance in medication taking. Non-compliance is very common among patients with schizophrenia and is a frequent cause of relapse. In terms of adverse effects, there are not convincing data that depot drugs are associated with a significantly higher incidence of adverse effects than oral drugs. Therefore in our opinion any patient for whom long-term antipsychotic treatment is indicated should be considered for depot drugs. In choosing which drug the clinician should consider previous experience, personal patient preference, patients history of response (both therapeutic and adverse effects) and pharmacokinetic properties. In conclusion the use of depot antipsychotics has important advantages in facilitating relapse prevention. Certainly pharmacotherapy must be combined with other treatment modalities as needed, but the consistent administration of the former is often what enables the latter.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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