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New treatment approved for major depressive disorder

AstraZeneca has received UK approval for Seroquel XL (quetiapine prolonged release) as an add-on treatment for depressive episodes in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who have had suboptimal response to antidepressant monotherapy.

Prior to initiating treatment, clinicians should consider the safety profile of quetiapine prolonged release. The decision follows the European Commission approval earlier this month.

According to the Depression Alliance, one in five people will have depression at some point in their life and MDD is the leading cause of suicide, particularly in people who have not received adequate treatment for their symptoms.

As up to 50% of people who suffer from MDD do not respond to firstline antidepressant treatment, add-on treatments are regularly used to manage this serious condition and are included in national guidelines.

The new indication for quetiapine prolonged release will potentially benefit such people who have failed to respond to firstline treatment and who require additional therapy.

"Depression is an important public health problem which has been shown to have a greater negative effect on health than angina, arthritis, asthma and diabetes", said Stuart Montgomery, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry.

"Effective medicines are a cornerstone of management for people with depression, and this new indication for quetiapine prolonged release provides healthcare professionals with a new option of add-on therapy when considering how best to treat inadequately responding MDD. This can only be good news for people who suffer from this serious and common condition."

According to a recent report from the mental health charity Rethink entitled Fair Treatment Now, launched in July 2010, mental illness costs us all around £33.75bn each year, but less than a quarter of this is spent on providing health services.

Most of it is channelled into other public services that are needed to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. Further treatment options that have the potential to treat people with mental health conditions may help to reduce the overall cost of mental health issues to society, as well as improving the lives of individual patients.

Along with the update to the licenced indications, the Summary of Product Characteristics for quetiapine prolonged release has been updated with respect to several individual safety topics such as suicide risk, weight gain, hyperglycaemia, extrapyramidal symptoms, akathisia, somnolence, orthostatic hypotension and dizziness.