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U. professor finds injections to be more effective for schizophrenia

Daniel Greer, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, published a study associating injectable medicine with lower rates of hospital readmission for patients with schizophrenic conditions compared to orally ingested medicine. – Photo by Diana Polekhina / Unsplash

Daniel Greer, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, recently co-authored research finding injectable medicine more effective than oral medication at treating schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Greer said the purpose of the research was to decrease hospital readmission rates for those diagnosed with these conditions. He said his research examined adults hospitalized with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and their readmission rates after 30 days of being discharged with antipsychotic medication.

Greer's work identified that 1.9 percent of patients who received the injection returned to hospital care in comparison to 8.3 percent of those who took the oral medication.

He said a limitation of the study is that the injectable form had a higher dose than its oral counterpart, which may have influenced the readmission rate, but Greer said patients should still be able to choose between the two.

"It's okay if they decline, they don't want it, but it should be available as an option because it might be the medication formulation that's keeping people steady, healthy, out of the hospital," Greer said.

He also said that those diagnosed with schizophrenic disorders have a surplus of dopamine in their brains, which causes hallucinations. Greer said currently available medication includes a first-generation antipsychotic that lowers the amount of dopamine in one's system, as well as a second-generation antipsychotic that decreases dopamine levels while increasing serotonin intake.

He said disorganized thought is a symptom of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, so patients may forget to take daily oral medication. In contrast, Greer said patients would have to receive a shot with the same chemical makeup as existing pills every two weeks to six months, depending on the medication.

In comparing the two forms of medication, Greer said patients' bodies process the oral medication at an inconsistent rate when taken daily, but the injectable medication is metabolized more smoothly over a longer period of time.

Ultimately, patients should have a choice in what kind of medication they wish to take, Greer said.

"My goal is never to push a certain medication or a certain formulation — just really give all the options … what's maybe the most effective based on the current evidence, talk about side effects, all sorts of things," Greer said.

Greer said drug companies may conduct future research on new types of injectable medication to determine the most effective solution.

He also said that medication should not be seen as the sole option for these patients, mentioning holistic measures like therapy, exercise and healthy eating.

"So, I think that I always want to take the patient's preference into mind. So, it's much better if the patient has a say in their own health care. So, what I try to do is collaborate and work with the patient as much as I can to meet their goals and reach their goals," Greer said.

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