FOR SOME patients, the antipsychotic medications now used to treat schizophrenia provide incomplete or no relief of symptoms, or have serious side effects. However, two new drug therapies now under study may help patients who previously have been refractory to treatment, perhaps with fewer adverse effects.
One of these drugs, remoxipride (Merck Sharp & Dohme, West Point, Pa), is a member of a new class of antipsychotics, says Stephen Shuchter, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and principal investigator for the remoxipride clinical trials there.
Like other antipsychotic medications, remoxipride is a dopamine antagonist that blocks dopamine receptors in the limbic and nigrostriatal areas of the brain. Neuroleptics usually relieve psychotic symptoms by acting on the limbic area, but, by inactivating the nigrostriatal area, they often lead to the development of parkinsonian symptoms and other side effects.Dopamine binds