Raloxifene ‘likely candidate’ for augmentation therapy in treating schizophrenia

Raloxifene ‘likely candidate’ for augmentation therapy in treating schizophrenia

Raloxifene, a second generation selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), used for preventing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, can now be a valuable addition to antipsychotic medication for improving outcomes of schizophrenia spectrum disorder in both men and women. According to a recent study by a team of researchers from the Netherlands, raloxifene was found to have positive outcomes without any side effects.

While the illness affects both males and females equally, an early onset of the disease is observed in males. Given the “robust” sex difference in individuals suffering from schizophrenia, raloxifene was found to have therapeutic benefits in both male and female subjects. Moreover, it neither had any feminizing effects like estrogen augmentation nor was found dangerous to the gynecologic tissues of women.

According to Jayashri Kulkarni, MBBS, Ph.D., Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Center, Melbourne, Australia, given that individuals affected by schizophrenia experience less relief from the symptoms despite undergoing current treatments, “adding raloxifene to standard antipsychotic treatment of the disease is a useful clinical adjunctive strategy in a patient with persistent schizophrenia.” However, the study results were found to be most fruitful for women in the peri-postmenopausal age group.

Raloxifene causes improvement in total symptom severity

To test the effectiveness of the drug, a team of investigators led by Janna de Boer from the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, conducted a systematic review of nine randomized controlled studies, analyzing the effect of the hormone therapy compared to placebo in 561 patients of schizophrenia. The literature search was conducted using Embase, Pubmed (Medline), Psychinfo and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Raloxifene had moderate, but significant positive effects on the total symptom severity when measured with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). The researchers also found that treatment duration and dosage did not influence the primary outcome in any way. However, they were unable to find any significant benefit on depression or cognitive outcomes. “Altogether, these results confirm the potential of raloxifene augmentation in the treatment of schizophrenia.”

What adds to effectiveness of raloxifene is its ability to be well-tolerated in the treatment of breast cancer and osteoporosis and the possibility of being administered to men without affecting their primary or secondary sex organs. Given that the medication can be used by both males and females over a long period, it can alleviate psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. As per Kulkarni, the study might help clinicians treat constantly ill patients who do not get respite from the symptoms and effects. But the mental health practitioners need to be better educated about how to assimilate hormone treatment within the traditional modes of therapy.

Holistic treatment for schizophrenia

A chronic and disabling brain disorder, schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the American population. Some of the most common symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, poor memory and lack of concentration. When left untreated, initial symptoms of the illness progress and become worse over time. Although there is no complete cure, an effective schizophrenia treatment integrates medications, psychotherapy, psychosocial treatments and alternative therapies to reduce the severity of the symptoms and prevent relapse.

A leading behavioral health care provider in the United States, Sovereign Health offers individualized, evidence-based treatment for a variety of mental health, substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. In addition to offering clinical-based treatment, we also provide continuing care to our patients and their families post completion of the treatment. For more information on our programs or to get connected to our state-of-the-art schizophrenia treatment centers, you can call our 24/7 helpline (866) 954-0529 and speak to a representative. For instant help, you can also chat online.

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