Developing New Medications

Drug companies won't invest millions of dollars in potential new medications unless someone can make a good argument that they will work. In other words, the industry waits until there is a good scientific basis for developing new profit-making products.

Unfortunately, the cause or causes of schizophrenia are still not well understood. As a result, many companies have limited themselves to bringing out drugs that are often only slightly different versions of what is already available.

Pharmaceutical companies finance some research studies that are not directly related to a particular drug's action, but economics prevent them from being big players in the pursuit of basic scientific knowledge. Without more basic research, the identification of promising new targets for advancing schizophrenia treatments will be delayed.

Hope for Cognition

Cognitive dysfunction and negative symptoms are key areas of treatment in need of fresh approaches. In response to this need, NIMH started the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) program as a way to stimulate academic scientists and pharmaceutical companies to identify biological targets for new drugs that will improve intellectual function in people struggling with schizophrenia. It is possible that developments in the future will result in multiple medications, each effective against some symptoms of the disease.

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