Psychiatric Times Vol 15 No 5

Researchers Under FireFeds to Probe Studies on Kids, Dueling Agencies Yield Confusion

June 01, 1998

The Office for Protection from Research Risks (OPRR), an agency operating under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, launched an investigation in April aimed at determining whether young boys were endangered during the course of experiments involving the drug fenfluramine (Pondimin).

Small Biotech Companies Target CNS Disorders

May 01, 1998

The concept of a barrier between the blood and the brain arose in the late 19th century when the German bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich observed that certain dyes administered intravenously to small animals stained all of the organs except the brain. Ehrlich interpreted this to mean that the brain had a lower affinity for the dye than the other tissues. In subsequent experiments, one of Ehrlich's students injected a blue dye directly into the cerebrospinal fluid of rabbits and dogs. The dye readily stained the entire brain, but did not enter the bloodstream to stain the other internal organs.

Executing the Mentally Ill: Who is Really Insane?

May 01, 1998

At stake is whether the laws defining sanity can actually distinguish between those individuals who are evil and those who are mentally ill, and what role psychiatrists should play when the legal definitions make the difference between life and death. Also under the microscope is the value of forensic psychiatric testimony itself, and whether the message about mental illness is getting through to juries, judges and appellate justices.

FDA Approves Reduced Clozapine Monitoring; Increased Patient Access Versus Increased Risk

May 01, 1998

Reducing the mandatory weekly monitoring of white blood cell (WBC) count during clozapine (Clozaril) treatment to a biweekly schedule after six months of treatment could result in twice the incidence of agranulocytosis and one death annually from blood dyscrasia in the approximately 67,000 patients using clozapine, according to testimony by Clozaril manufacturer, Novartis.

Melvin Sabshin: A Profile

May 01, 1998

Bestowed in gratitude in recognition of (his) superb, invigorating leadership of the American Psychiatric Association, his dedication to the principle that the highest quality patient care rests firmly on a true integration of the latest advances in psychodynamic and psychobiological thinking, and his strong advocacy for the scientific validation of what we do--all accomplished with his own consummate grace and elegance.

Why HMOs, the Federal Government and Hospitals Prefer a Surplus of Physicians

May 01, 1998

Despite expressed concerns by government agencies about the surplus of graduate physicians and residents, the net effect of the surplus is to restrain the growth of medical costs. For these reasons, until it can be proven that a physician surplus has negatively impacted patient care or until U.S. medical graduates cannot obtain medical positions, I do not anticipate a reduction of house staff positions.

Medication-Psychotherapy Combination Most Effective for Schizophrenia

May 01, 1998

"Can we talk?" asks a recovering patient who chastises psychiatry for too readily dismissing patients with her diagnosis as unable to benefit from talking therapy (A Recovering Patient, 1986). With managed care administrators quick to seize upon a lack of outcome data as a pretext for limiting treatment and a public mental health system pressed to handle caseloads as high as 200 to 300 patients per clinician, psychiatry's regrettable answer has often been: "No, we're too busy." Recent research findings, however, convincingly demonstrate that a flexible form of individual psychotherapy, when combined with appropriate neuroleptic medication, can yield improvements in social and vocational functioning unobtainable with "treatments as usual."

EEG Monitoring in ECT: A Guide to Treatment Efficacy

May 01, 1998

For over 50 years we clinicians have administered electroconvulsive therapy with little to guide us in deciding whether or not a particular induced seizure is an effective treatment. At first we thought that piloerection or pupillary dilatation predicted the efficacy of a seizure, but these signs were difficult to assess and were never subjected to controlled experiments.

Awakenings with the New Antipsychotics

May 01, 1998

The explosion of neuroscience developments in this "Decade of the Brain" now provides people with schizophrenia a new generation of antipsychotic therapies. For many, these medications (e.g., clozapine [Clozaril], olanzapine [Zyprexa], risperidone [Risperdal], and quetiapine [Seroquel]) produce an improvement over their "old" antipsychotics in terms of side effects and, for some, clinical response. For a select few, however, these medications can produce dramatic improvement, akin to what Sacks (1990) termed an "awakening." These medications create exciting opportunities to use psychotherapy, group work and rehabilitation with a population historically relegated to back wards or triaged to "case management."

New Warning of Depression with Accutane Could Apply to Other Medications

May 01, 1998

While The Medical Letter relates several neuropsychiatric side effects with most drugs on the list, it emphasizes the association of depression with calcium channel blockers by indicating only this condition with this drug category. This, despite a single report of hallucinations with verapamil (Isoptin) as the only neuropsychiatric symptom of a calcium channel blocker included on the 1993 list.

Combining Psychopharmacology, Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

May 01, 1998

The advent of safer psychopharmacological agents with less troublesome side effects, along with increasing knowledge of the broad array of syndromes treatable with medication, have led to a vast expansion in treatment options available to the psychiatrist. Studies and clinical experience demonstrate that employing psychotropic medication in combination with psychoanalysis or psychodynamic psychotherapy now occurs with increasing frequency.

Brain Development, Attachment and Impact on Psychic Vulnerability

May 01, 1998

Infant-caregiver interactions, seminal events in brain development and their possible relationship to later psychic vulnerability were explored in a recent continuing education seminar, "Understanding and Treating Trauma: Developmental and Neurobiological Approaches," at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Recruiting Volunteers for Clinical Drug Trials

May 01, 1998

The increasing complexity and specificity of clinical trials, widely publicized research scandals and major advances in psychopharmacology have created a dilemma for academic institutions and private research organizations alike--how to find appropriate volunteers to participate in clinical drug trials. A major obstacle to patient recruitment is finding patients who are protocol-appropriate, said Nancy Hashim, affiliated with the Feighner Research Institute in San Diego.