New drugs for schizophrenia now available

The availability of the latest drugs for people suffering from
schizophrenia has been greeted as a breakthrough by
Scotland’s largest mental health charity.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has welcomed
the Health Technology Board for Scotland report on the use of newer
(atypical) drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia. The report
proposes the nationwide use of the newer drugs which cause fewer
side effects in particular movement and muscular problems. Until
now, health agencies have been reluctant to prescribe the newer
drugs because they are more expensive.

Richard Norris, SAMH director of policy, said: “These guidelines
should lead to more people being offered a wider choice of
medications for their illness, and in particular, not having to
take medication which leads to unacceptable side effects. The drugs
don’t cure the illness, and no one drug will work for everyone, but
these drugs do seem better.”

There are approximately 16,800 diagnosed cases of schizophrenia
in Scotland with 1,000 new cases being diagnosed every year.

Norris did warn that while the new drugs would have beneficial
effects they were insufficient on their own. SAMH is calling for
all people with mental health problems to have access to a range of
services such as psychological therapies, psychosocial
interventions, and employment and housing support.

Norris said: “This needs to be paid for with new money, as
mental health services are already fully stretched. In the long
term this policy should save money, with reduced hospital

The Health Technology Board for Scotland report is available at

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