Among types of psychosis issues, schizophrenia remains the most challenging to effectively treat and manage. People diagnosed with schizophrenia are less likely to understand the necessity of treatment and are sometimes mistrustful of their attending physicians. They also may be less likely to adhere to any treatment regimen, which is worrisome because schizophrenic relapse is associated with a general worsening of symptoms and poor long-term outcomes.
With these facts in mind, drug research has turned to formulations that require fewer doses but achieve equivalent effects. Recently, the medications of choice for schizophrenia management have belonged to the atypical antipsychotic category. These newer medications have fewer unwanted side effects in comparison with the typical antipsychotics. Still, prescriptions for these medications are often complicated and depend on strict adherence on the part of the person who has been diagnosed.
An extended-release (XR) formulation of Seroquel (quetiapine) holds promise as a superior alternative to the standard, immediate-release (IR) version. Whereas the IR tablets require three or four daily doses, the XR only has to be taken once daily. This makes adherence easier for the patient, as several studies have demonstrated. Better adherence reduces the chances of relapse or hospitalization. Other studies have shown that Seroquel XR is identical to the normal formulation both in terms of safety and effectiveness.
People who switched from the fast-release version to XR experienced no significant ill effects. Likewise, patients switching from another atypical antipsychotic because of ineffectiveness typically saw improvement with Seroquel XR. The most common side effects of the atypical antipsychotics are weight gain, followed by sleep disturbances. However, Seroquel’s propensity to cause weight gain is less than other drugs in its class. Another study offered evidence that drowsiness caused by Seroquel XR was less significant than that caused by the immediate-release formulation.
Low adherence to prescription regimens is a leading cause of relapse in schizophrenic patients. At the same time, complex dosing schedules correlate with poor adherence in patients with psychotic issues. Seroquel extended-release offers the well-established effectiveness of Seroquel combined with a much simpler dosing regimen. Numerous clinical trials and retrospective analyses have demonstrated that Seroquel XR is a safe choice when adherence may present a complication to treatment.
- Peuskens, J. (2011). The management of schizophrenia: focus on extended-release quetiapine fumarate. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 7, 549-564.
- Quetiapine – PubMed Health. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001030/
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