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More Than 300 New Medicines Being Developed for Mental Illnesses

NEW ORLEANS, July 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There are a record 301 new medicines being developed for mental illnesses, according to a new report released here today during a briefing that focused on the devastating effects that mental illnesses have on patients, their families, and society. Nationwide, mental illness affects nearly 60 million American adults. The briefing, led by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), featured Emmy Award-winning actor Joey Pantoliano -- well known for his role in The Sopranos -- who suffers from depression.

In Louisiana, rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide have increased since hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Mental disorders after a natural disaster usually decrease with time, with about 50 percent of post-traumatic mental disorders resolved within a year of the disaster, notes a recent Harvard University study. However, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, the researchers found the contrary: Anxiety or mood disorder has been increasing by 30 percent and more.

"We are releasing this report in Louisiana in view of the upcoming third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the state's continuing need for assistance in treating mental illness," said PhRMA Senior Vice President Ken Johnson. "The medicines being developed treat a range of conditions, from depression to anxiety, and from schizophrenia to dependence on alcohol and drugs. These medicines are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and they will help patients live longer, happier, and healthier lives. It's important for patients and healthcare providers to know that research into mental illness remains a top priority."

Many of these diseases, such as depression, were once misunderstood causes of shame and fear. Fortunately, today many are highly treatable conditions.

Unfortunately, despite the tremendous progress, mental illness continues to exact a heavy human and economic toll in this country. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the total cost (direct and indirect) of treating mental illnesses in the United States is $205 billion a year.

Included in the report's new medicines in the research pipeline are: 66 medicines for depression, which affects nearly 21 million Americans; 26 medicines for addictive disorders, including dependence on alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs; 54 medicines for anxiety disorders, which affect more than 40 million adults ages 18 and older; 89 for dementias, including Alzheimer's disease, which affects more than 5 million Americans; and 45 for schizophrenia, which strikes some 2.4 million adults each year.

"Patients and healthcare providers need to know that there are many new, potential options out there that could allow them a better quality of life," said Pantoliano. "Instead of suffering in silence and isolating themselves, as I did for many years, I encourage everyone with a mental illness -- or who thinks they may have a mental illness -- to find out what the options are and seek treatment. People who are suffering need to know that there is hope."

Joey Pantoliano is one of the best-known character actors in Hollywood, appearing in more than 100 movies and television shows. But he is probably best known for his critically acclaimed and Emmy award-winning performance as psychopathic mobster Ralphie Cifaretto on The Sopranos. His lengthy movie credits include Risky Business, The Matrix, The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals, Bad Boys, Empire of the Sun, Running Scared and The Goonies. In his most recent film, Canvas, Pantoliano plays a husband trying to hold his family together while his wife, portrayed by Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden, battles schizophrenia. Making the film helped Pantoliano come to terms with his own depression, a condition he revealed he has been suffering from for more than a decade. Rather than hide his struggle from the public, Pantoliano has chosen to speak out about his disease, and founded the organization "No Kidding, Me Too!" ( to help remove the isolation and stigma that often surrounds mental illness.

Johnson stressed that while researchers are making exciting progress in the search for new cures and treatments for mental health disorders, these efforts are wasted if the medicines that are developed are not accessible to the patients who need them.

Help is available to patients in need through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a program sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies. To date, the PPA has helped more than 5 million patients nationwide, including more than 119,000 people in Louisiana. Since its launch in April 2005, the PPA bus tour has visited all 50 states and more than 2,000 cities. The PPA bus has been to Louisiana seven times since the program was launched.

To read the 2008 report, Medicines in Development for Mental Illnesses on the PhRMA Web site, go to:

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country's leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $44.5 billion in 2007 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $58.8 billion in 2007.

PhRMA Internet Address:

For information on stories of hope and survival, visit:

For information on how innovative medicines save lives, visit:

For information on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, visit:

For information on the danger of imported drugs, visit:

SOURCE Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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