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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Psychiatrist calls for more research into combination treatments

Embargoed until 23 June 2010

Better treatment for people with bipolar disease and other mental illnesses is likely to come from properly tested combinations of existing therapies, according to leading psychiatry researcher Professor John Geddes.

New research led by Professor Geddes at Oxford University has revealed that bipolar disorder – suffered by 1 in 100 people including Stephen Fry and actress Carrie Fisher – is optimally treated by a combination of lithium and sodium valproate.

Professor Geddes told delegates at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2010 International Congress in Edinburgh: “We showed that this combination is substantially better than valproate on its own, and may be slightly better than lithium on its own.”

Professor Geddes called for more research into the development of combination therapies. He said: “Cancer and heart disease are now routinely treated with combinations of drugs, following well-conducted trials to identify medications that work best together. But psychiatry has lagged behind in the development of sound evidence-based combination therapies.

“Psychiatric patients are often prescribed several drugs to control symptoms. But they are rarely tested combinations, and more frequently come about when an extra drug is added by the doctor when the existing medication is failing to work.”

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International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Edinburgh, 21-24 June 2010.


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