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Jelena Kunovac, MD: The Difficulty of Treating Schizophrenia

Antipsychotic discontinuation remains a major hurdle for effective schizophrenia treatment.

Schizophrenia remains one of the more difficult disorders to treat, largely because of a wide array of symptoms and a high rate of antipsychotic discontinuations for patients.

Because the disease presents itself with both negative and positive symptoms, finding a “one-size fits all” medication has proven difficult, if not impossible.

While it has proven easier to find a medication that can treat the positive symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, developing a medication that also can treat the social isolation and paranoia is much less efficient.

This combination, as well as the likelihood of a schizophrenia patient to alienate family and loved ones, increases the rate of discontinuation substantially.

The antipsychotics commonly prescribed for schizophrenia also may include various side effects, including weight gain and headaches.

In an interview with HCPLive®, Jelena Kunovac, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer, Altea Research, explained why it has been so difficult to develop new treatments for the disease.

“Unfortunately, we’ve yet to come up with a treatment for schizophrenia that has no side effects,” Kunovac said. “And whoever does may very well be the top contender for the Nobel Prize.”