Research presented at the virtual Psych Congress featured phase II/III trial successes for many new pharmacological treatments, including adjunctive treatment with the atypical antipsychotic pimavanserin (Nuplazid) for negative symptoms of schizophrenia, lumateperone (Caplyta) for depressive episodes for patients with bipolar disorder, and a new abuse-deterrent amphetamine for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Below are highlights of several other noteworthy studies from the meeting.
Digital Tech in Mental Health
In a survey of 143 healthcare professionals conducted in 2019, telepsychiatry was used by nearly half of mental health providers. Additionally, mental health apps were utilized by about a quarter of providers, along with digital-based interventions or assessments of mental health.
The study, led by Chip Meyer, PhD, of Otsuka Pharmaceuticals’ lab in Princeton, New Jersey, also found that about 18% of mental health professionals used technology to bolster medication adherence.
On the other hand, certain factors that were associated with perceived implementation barriers for digital health technologies included difficulty integrating with clinical workflows and patients possibly not being comfortable with technology — both issues were reported by 40% of providers as barriers. About a third of providers also cited privacy and security concerns as barriers to use of digital technology.
“Most healthcare professionals learned about emerging digital health technologies from their colleagues, highlighting the need for better educational resources,” Meyer said during his presentation of the poster study.
U.S. Treatment Patterns for Bipolar Disorder
In a retrospective analysis of adults with a new diagnosis of bipolar disorder between 2016 and 2018, the most common initial type of bipolar episodes included bipolar II — making up about 38% of the claims assessed — followed by bipolar I depression, accounting for about 30% of claims.
Less frequently occurring were initial episodes of bipolar I mania (13% of claims) and bipolar I with mixed features (12%), according to the study led by Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH, of Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Midland.
However, across all types of initial bipolar episodes, about 90% of patients received one line of therapy — the most common being mood stabilizers (44%), antidepressants (42%), atypical antipsychotics (32%), and benzodiazepines (21%) — while about 80% received multiple lines of therapy. The most common types of subsequent therapies were antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
Specifically for patients who initially presented with bipolar I depression, about 15% were prescribed antidepressant monotherapy as their first line of treatment — despite this practice not falling in line with current bipolar disorder guidelines, Jain reported.
Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotic Prescribing
According to a cross-sectional survey of 466 psychiatrists in the U.S., France, Spain, Japan, and China, long-acting injectable antipsychotics were usually prescribed only for patients with schizophrenia who had more severe illness. Specifically, only 1,132 patients of a total of 4,237 were currently receiving a long-acting antipsychotic injectable.
The study, led by Alexander Keenan, MA, of Janssen Global Services in Titusville, New Jersey, showed that patients taking long-acting injectable antipsychotics were more likely to be noted as “moderate-amongst the most extremely ill” on the Clinical Global Impression-Severity scale, as well as having moderate-severe impairment for overall level of function.
Patients receiving long-acting injectables also tended to have a longer duration of illness, averaging about 11 years, and were more likely to have had a more frequent number of hospitalizations and relapses since initial diagnosis.
Kristen Monaco is a staff writer, focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry, and dermatology news. Based out of the New York City office, she’s worked at the company for nearly five years.
The Meyer et al study was funded by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization.
The Jain et al study was funded by AbbVie.
The Keenan et al study was supported by Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC.