British Columbia Covers New Treatment for Patients Living with Serious and Lifelong Mental Illness

    TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - British Columbians with schizophrenia have
renewed hope for a better life following the BC government's decision to
expand treatment options for patients through the listing of SEROQUEL XR(R) on
the PharmaCare Formulary. SEROQUEL XR is the extended-release formulation of
SEROQUEL(R). AstraZeneca developed the extended-release formulation of
SEROQUEL in response to the needs of healthcare professionals: to simplify the
dose escalation regimen to enable patients to safely reach the therapeutically
effective dose range by the second day of treatment and to allow once-daily
    There is no cure for schizophrenia; however, it can be treated
effectively with a combination of medication, education, primary care
services, hospital and community-based services, such as housing and
employment. While antipsychotic medication is an essential component for the
treatment for schizophrenia,(1) adherence to a patient-specific treatment plan
is important for avoiding illness relapse(1), and preventing hospitalization.
    "We see the significant impact that schizophrenia can have on patients
and their families," said Gary Glacken, Executive Director of the British
Columbia Schizophrenia Society. "We applaud the BC government in its decision
to have a treatment option available that is easy to use and accessible to
people with schizophrenia that will help them manage their illness and improve
their quality of life."
    In the 2008 BC Throne Speech, the provincial government demonstrated its
commitment to improving the lives of British Columbians by emphasizing disease
prevention and health promotion. One of the BC government's focus was on
disease areas that have a lifelong impact on patients, their families and
society, including mental illnesses like schizophrenia and depression, which
typically begin in adolescence and extend throughout their lives.(2)
    "We recognize the BC government's support of a more focused approach on
health promotion and disease prevention. The listing of SEROQUEL XR on the BC
PharmaCare Formulary is a positive step forward in improving patient access to
mental health care in the province," said Mark Jones, President and CEO of
AstraZeneca Canada. "AstraZeneca remains committed to partnering with the
government to further support their work on developing sustainable solutions."


    Schizophrenia is a serious, but treatable mental illness affecting
approximately one per cent of the general population at some point in their
lives.(3) An estimated 40,000 British Columbians have the condition.(4)
Symptoms often first present during adolescence and early adulthood (late
teens to mid-30s);(3) however, relapses of acute psychotic episodes can occur
throughout one's lifetime.(3) The potential risk of suicide and self-harm
among individuals suffering from schizophrenia is significant. Studies
indicate that 30 per cent of schizophrenia patients attempt suicide during
their lifetime and 10 per cent will successfully take their own lives.(5)
    The condition affects all aspects of a patient's life, such as their
physical wellbeing, employment and their ability to form and maintain social
relationships.(3) With each relapse, a patient's condition worsens. This can
lead to a loss in cognitive ability, as well as a cycle of emergency room
visits, costly hospitalizations, and visits to the doctor.(6),(1) Moreover,
the risk of contact with legal authorities or misconduct, which sometimes
results in a diversion to the court system or even jail, is higher among
people with severe mental illness, including schizophrenia, compared to that
of the general population.(6)
    As a complex and often debilitating mental illness, schizophrenia
requires a greater use of hospital beds than any other medical or surgical
condition.(4) The economic costs of this disease are estimated at $890 million
in BC (2004)(6). Moreover, the burden of schizophrenia stretches beyond
dollars, affecting both the daily lives of individuals and their relationships
with their families. New treatments can translate into renewed opportunities
for treatment success, easing the economic, family and personal burden of this

    ABOUT SEROQUEL XR (quetiapine fumarate extended-release)

    It is estimated that more than 25 million people have been treated with
SEROQUEL worldwide since its launch in 1997(7). In September 2007, SEROQUEL XR
was approved by Health Canada for the treatment of schizophrenia in adult
patients. Beyond schizophrenia, SEROQUEL XR has recently been approved for
bipolar mania. In addition to BC, SEROQUEL XR has recently been listed on
Ontario and Quebec provincial drug formularies.


    AstraZeneca is a leading global pharmaceutical company with an extensive
product portfolio spanning six major therapeutic areas: gastrointestinal,
cardiovascular, infection, neuroscience, oncology, and respiratory.
AstraZeneca's Canadian headquarters and packaging facilities are located in
Mississauga, Ontario, and its state-of-the-art drug discovery centre is based
in Montréal, Québec. For more information, visit the company's Web site at


    1.  Addington D, Bouchard R-H, Goldberg J, Honer B, Malla A, Norman R et
        al. Clinical practice guidelines. Treatment of Schizophrenia. Can J
        Psychiatry 2005; pg. 1S - 56S.
    2.  Speech from the Throne, Province of British Columbia, February 12,
    3.  A Report on Mental Illnesses. Public Health Agency of Canada. pg. 49
        - 58.
    4.  "Schizophrenia:  The Basics." British Columbia Schizophrenia Society.
        June 4, 2007
        accessed on July 22, 2008
    5.  Rossler W, Salize HJ, van Os J, Riecher-Rossler A. Size of burden of
        schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2005;
    6.  Goeree R, Farahati F, Burke N, Blackhouse G, O'Reilly D, Pyne J et
        al. The economic burden of schizophrenia in Canada in 2004. Curr Med
        Res Opin 2005; 21:2017-2028.
    7.  My Seroquel Space. Seroquel Infospace.
        Accessed August 6, 2008. Data on file.

    SEROQUEL(R), SEROQUEL XR (R), and the AstraZeneca logo are registered
    trade-marks of the AstraZeneca group of companies.

For further information:

For further information: Stephanie Batcules, AstraZeneca Canada Inc.,
Tel: (905) 615-6849; Mary-Anne Cedrone, Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L), Tel:
(416) 847-1342

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