The first antipsychotic patch could replace medication

The NHS has begun a trial of the world’s first antipsychotic patch.

As Mental Health Today reports, it will deliver a medication called asenapine, which is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder (a condition which includes elements of both bipolar and schizophrenia).

Though the term is often confused with being psychopathic, psychosis involves breaks with reality where someone experiences hallucinations or delusions but is still empathetic and rarely a danger to others. Sometimes it can be triggered by a neurological illness or heavy drug or alcohol use, but it’s usually a symptom of mental illness.

The Research and Development Team at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is working with Richmond Pharmacology, a clinical research company, to trial the patch. They hope it will improve treatment outcomes, as releasing medication through the skin over the course of a day means it should be more easily absorbed, leading to fewer side effects.

Asenapine commonly causes anxiety and fatigue, so this treatment option has the potential to dramatically improve patients’ quality of life. It also means that people in distress don’t have to remember to take tablets.

So far, feedback from users has been positive, but the trial is still in its early stages and only has 9 people enrolled so far. The trust plans to recruit 15 more by December, when the first stage of testing will end. The researchers then want to expand clinical trials to hundreds of patients at hospitals around the world.

Image via e-Magine Art’s Flickr.

Diane Shipley

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