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Capital Health

New Schizophrenia treatment to provide much needed relief for patients and their families

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB)
has approved the use of Paliperidone Palmitate, for the maintenance treatment of schizophrenia in adults whose disease has already been stabilized on treatment with paliperidone or risperidone.

The drug manufactured by Janssen, pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson is a second generation long acting injectable anti-psychotic which will be administered monthly as a maintenance treatment of patients withschizophrenia.

The approval is expected to help boost ongoing efforts aimed at addressing
the burden of mental illness and access to quality mental health care in Kenya.

“The new drug works as a receptor antagonist of dopamine and serotonin,
leading to the stabilization of these two chemicals in the brain.

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“The burden of schizophrenia and related illnesses was on the rise and the
introduction of Paliperidone Palmitate in the market would boost access to more treatment options for patients with schizophrenia,” noted Janssen Kenya Country Manager Marseille Onyango.

He said the pharmaceutical company will continue to support national efforts to de-stigmatize mental health by supporting awareness and capacity building initiatives.

“As a company committed to bringing innovative medicines to patients, we
want to play our part and join forces in the national mental health policy
rollout agenda as we aspire for better health outcomes for all,” said Onyango.

On his part, Janssen Country Director for Sub Saharan Africa & Syria
Bassem Haider, emphasized the company’s strong heritage in neuroscience.

“We are a proud pioneer in the field. It is our mission to reduce the
burden, disability and devastation caused by mental health disorders and
transform individual lives,” said Bassem.

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Haider expressed optimism that the new treatment will provide much needed relief for patients with Schizophrenia and their families.

The prescription-only drug is distributed locally by Johnson & Johnson
Middle East FZ LLC, locally known as Janssen Kenya, as part of the global
pharmaceutical company´s commitment to enhance access to essential medicines.

Frank Njenga, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Upper Hill Medical Centre says
schizophrenia is relatively rare and affects about one per cent of Kenyans.
However, because it is linked to higher suicide cases, almost half of the
mental patients hospitalized at Mathari Hospital have schizophrenia.

“By having this kind of novel treatments, then we reduce the burden, improve quality of life, the patient is able to back to work, since a  patient
can get the injection  one in every three months. This provides a relief because there is less money going into the treatment of the disease.”

There are about 200 mental illnesses, but in Kenya, the most common is
anxiety, followed by depression, alcohol and substance use disorder, bipolar
disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Patients with schizophrenia tend to have psychotic episodes such as hearing imaginary voices.

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“Quarrels, lack of sleep and stress trigger these psychotic episodes,” said
Njenga.

-About Schizophrenia-

It is a complex and chronic brain disorder, in which symptoms can be severe and disabling and can affect all aspects of a person’s daily life.

It affects people from all countries, socio-economic groups and cultures.
Its prevalence is similar around the world – almost one person in every 100
will develop schizophrenia before they reach the age of 60, with men slightly more at risk. 

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There is no single known cause of schizophrenia. Different factors acting together are thought to contribute to the development of the illness. Both genetic and environmental factors seem to be important.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can include hallucinations, delusions, lack of
emotional response, social withdrawal/depression, apathy and a lack of drive or initiative.

Schizophrenia is typically a lifelong condition, but there are treatments
that can be beneficial.

Clinical guidelines recommend that the optimal treatment package is a
combination of antipsychotic medication along with psychotherapy,
psycho-education and self-help.

Effective treatment may allow people with the condition to enjoy a more
fulfilling, well rounded life, which may include returning to work or study,
independent living and social relationships, which in turn can aid their
recovery.

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