BEERSE, Belgium, March 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- New data from an independent prospective study presented last week at the 19th European Congress of Psychiatry (EPA 2011) shows treatment with Risperdal(R) Consta(R) (risperidone long-acting injection (RLAI)) is associated with a lower risk of hospitalisation in patients with schizophrenia compared to treatment with other antipsychotics over a 12-month period. The data was collected as part of the French Cohort for the General Study of Schizophrenia (CGS), which aimed to assess the impact of long-acting injectable antipsychotic drugs compared to other antipsychotic drugs on the risk of hospitalisation in real-life settings.

Schizophrenia is relatively common and the prevalence is similar around the world. The lifetime risk for schizophrenia is estimated to be one person in 100, and appears to be the same for men and women up to age 60 years.[1] It is a devastating mental illness for both the patients and their families and friends, as it seriously impairs a person's ability to think clearly, relate to others and to function properly in society. While there is no cure, many people with the illness respond well to antipsychotic medicines, the mainstay of treatment for schizophrenia.

However, further relapses can have a terrible effect on the lives of patients with schizophrenia and their families. Frequent relapses and hospitalisation can increase the person's isolation and make it even more difficult for them to find and keep a job.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6] Prevention of future relapses is a crucial goal of therapy and patients who stay on continual treatment are more likely to achieve optimal outcomes.[7],[8]

From a public health perspective, the estimated overall cost burden of schizophrenia is also significant. For direct costs alone (e.g. general practitioner and specialist consultations, hospital admissions and drug treatment), the total estimated cost of schizophrenia in Europe is approximately EUR33billion.[9],[10]

Results from 1,859 patients with schizophrenia who were followed up over a 12-month period as part of the CGS, showed Risperdal(R) Consta(R) significantly reduced the risk of hospitalisation by 34% compared to any other antipsychotic treatments (adjusted relative rate (AAR), 0.66). In addition, Risperdal(R) Consta(R) reduced the risk of hospitalisation by 47% compared with other long-acting first generation antipsychotics (AAR 0.53).

"These results provide us with important additional data to better understand the role that treatments like Risperdal(R) Consta(R) can play in helping to reduce the overall burden of schizophrenia," said Professor Lucien Abenhaim, LA-SER Group and Department of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.* "The Cohort for the General Study of Schizophrenia results complement the data gained from blinded clinical trials, and help to build a more accurate picture of treatment outcomes in real-life."

Patients with schizophrenia who are non-adherent to medication are almost five times more likely to relapse than those patients who are adherent, significantly increasing the likelihood of relapse and hospitalisation,[12], [13] which in turn increases the overall cost of care. Frequent relapses and hospitalisation can increase a person's isolation and make it even more difficult for them to find and keep a job.[14],[15],[16],[17],[18]

"Regular periods of hospitalisation following an acute episode is extremely damaging for patients with schizophrenia and their families and friends," said Dr Lupe Martinez, Medical Affairs Director, Janssen EMEA.** "Not only does it place a significant strain on families, but it can damage friendships and make it extremely difficult for someone with schizophrenia to be self-sufficient and stay in employment. This data supports the important role of antipsychotic medication to help keep a person's symptoms under control and keep their lives stabilised."

Risperdal(R) Consta(R) was the first long-acting injectable second-generation antipsychotic to be licensed for the maintenance treatment of schizophrenia in patients currently stabilised with oral antipsychotics. It has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse and re-hospitalisation[19] and is associated with a reduction in overall treatment costs per patient compared to other antipsychotics.[20] Reducing the rate of hospitalisation in patients with schizophrenia is a key public health priority, given the significant burden of this illness on healthcare systems, patients and their family and friends.