The death of Robin Williams and child star Sawyer Sweeten has brought focus to the mental health crisis in the US. Although there has been a growing debate on whether mental illness is given the attention and health dollars needed to effectively treat the people who are afflicted, there may be some new hope on the horizon.
One of the major mental illnesses is Major Depressive Disorders, (MDD). As defined by Mayoclinic.org, MDD, also known as Clinical Depression, is a mood disorder causing a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. In severe cases it causes suicidal thoughts and depression accompanied by delusions or hallucinations, which may involve themes of personal inadequacy or negative themes. There are approximately 15 million adults in the US with MDD, and many of them go without treatment because of lack of understanding, healthcare coverage reasons, cost and access to care. Mental health resources are stretched thin across the country. Unfortunately, for many who do receive care, current therapies and treatments are not always effective and often lead to people abandoning medical assistance with potentially dangerous results.
However, some major pharmaceutical companies have been putting dollars into research and have promising pipelines. Companies like Lundbeck A/S have focused their research and development efforts on creating new and innovative pharmaceuticals for the treatment of brain disorders with some positive results. According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), in 2014 America’s biopharmaceutical research companies were developing 119 novel medicines to help improve the lives of people with mental health disorders. The medicines in development are all either in clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration. Some of these medicines should be to market shortly like Rexulti® (brexpiprazole), which will aid in the treatment of MDD and Schizophrenia, anticipated to reach the public in August of 2015. It is hopeful that these news drugs will help address cost and access barriers to treatment.
The upshot, the mental health-care system in the United States is a multibillion-dollar industry that’s still not big or effective enough to serve all those who need it, but its working to get there. Mental illness and addiction related issues are an unfortunate growth industry, not only with in the pharmaceutical world, but treatment and care centers are also taking off, as stigmas around the disease fall away and improved health insurance allow greater access.