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AZ website supports mental health switching

Published on 25/10/07 at 03:00pm

AstraZeneca has launched a new website to support patients suffering from mental health conditions who want to change their drug treatment.

The Choice Mental Health site aims to promote shared decision making to improve patient health and was developed by The Choice Group, a collaborative group of people involved with mental health.

They include public health workers, carers, patients, government representatives and nurses, one of whom was Dr Richard Gray, a psychiatric nurse at the Institute of Psychiatry.

" aims to increase understanding on the choice of options available to treat mental health conditions. This includes the use of antipsychotics to help manage debilitating mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar mania," he said.

"We know that patients frequently switch their medications, therefore, we want service users to feel empowered to choose the right treatment for them to help their recovery."

Mental health is an important area for AstraZeneca, and its blockbuster schizophrenia treatment Seroquel is one of five key growth products for the company.

It said the Choice Mental Health website supported the Department of Health's patient choice initiative by empowering patients and helping to improve standards of care in mental health.

The website includes information on existing treatment options and general information on mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

There is also a side effect checklist, policy news, lists of 'power questions' for patients to ask healthcare professionals or their carers and case studies available that highlight those affected by mental illness and how treatment choice has helped them to manage their condition.

Dr Gray commented: "In my opinion, in mental health in particular, the involvement of service users in decision making improves outcomes. By demonstrating to service users, carers and healthcare professionals how choice can benefit each individual, we hope to drive up standards and provide more flexible and personalised care."

The Choice Group was set by AstraZeneca to promote choice and good practice in mental health care decision making. The group is part of the Shared Care Forum for Mental Health, another AstraZeneca initiative, set up in 2002 to provide support and networking opportunities for people involved in mental health, whether service users or healthcare professionals.

Seroquel sales

AstraZeneca's Seroquel, along with Janssen Cilags Risperdal, has recently been picking up new US sales from Lillys top selling Zyprexa after that drug was hit by concerns about its side effects.

Decision Resources analyst Sandra Chow said: "Zyprexa dominated the schizophrenia market just two years ago; however, recent focus on the drugs risk of weight gain and diabetes has changed physician perception of this agent.

"With the launch of new formulations and line extensions over the next two years, such as AstraZeneca's Seroquels XR, Wyeth/Solvay Pharmaceutical's bifeprunox, Janssen's paliperidone depot, and Lilly's olanzapine depot, as well as the expiration of Janssen's Risperdal patent protection in 2008, the landscape of schizophrenia is poised for even greater changes."

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