Long-acting injectables (LAIs) continue to be underused for patients with chronic diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, in my practice, I have found the use of those medications to be useful for promoting adherence, and I wonder why they are not used more often – in light of their effectiveness. Specifically, among individuals with schizophrenia, LAIs can lead to significant improvements in symptom control, quality of life, and overall functioning.1
The following three cases illustrate the power of LAIs:
Case 1: A male patient with schizoaffective diagnosis had been admitted several times to the inpatient psychiatric unit and had poor compliance to medications by mouth. He had multiple emergency department visits besides having community health behavioral support. After various medication trials by mouth, he responded to LAIs. He was able to function in the community for longer periods of time and required far fewer ED visits. He followed up with his outpatient psychiatric support regularly.
Case 2: A female patient with schizoaffective disorder had psychosis of a persecutory nature and paranoia. She was unable to function in the community and struggled with delusional thoughts leading to anger outbursts in the community. She continually refused medicines by mouth in the outpatient unit. Upon involuntary inpatient management as per court order, the patient responded to LAIs. Her insight improved, and she displayed better judgment in the future.
Case 3: A female patient with bipolar I was impulsive and promiscuous, and routinely entered into high-risk situations. She was not able to negotiate safely in the community, and was shuttling from shelter to shelter. She was losing her medications time and again during her transition in the community. She responded well to LAIs, however, and was able to keep herself out of the inpatient hospital for longer periods of time. She said she felt relieved about not depending on daily oral medications. She also reported not self medicating with street substances.
A recent retrospective study of more than 3,600 patients showed that those who initiate LAIs versus oral antipsychotics have greater reductions in the number of hospitalizations.2 Furthermore, treatment with