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Jelena Kunovac, MD: Decreased Schizophrenia Screenings During COVID-19

More prospective studies are needed to examine how different drugs can be effective for schizophrenia patients based on the cluster of symptoms.

One of the byproducts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is that screenings to diagnose new patients has been largely halted.

While some specialties are utilizing telehealth to do new screenings, it remains difficult, particularly for a disease like schizophrenia, which could include a delicate symptom set.

Often schizophrenia patients are hit with a deluge of symptoms that they often do not feel comfortable sharing, including hallucinations, delusions, and hearing voices.

While some schizophrenia patients who suffer from depression and paranoia may handle the social isolation better, others may not.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Jelena Kunovac, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer, Altea Research, said the psychiatric community likely fell behind on screening new patients with schizophrenia since lockdown measures began to take shape.

Kunovac is the lead researchers on a new study testing aripiprazole lauroxil (ARISTADA INITIO) one-day initiation regimen, consisting of the treatment combined with a single dose of 30 mg oral aripiprazole, along with a two-month dose of aripiprazole lauroxil was effective for patients experiencing an acute exacerbation of schizophrenia.

While the six-month phase 3B study showed positive results, Kunovac said it remains a challenge for the medical research community to develop a treatment that limits the side effects for schizophrenia patients.