Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Renaming Psychiatric Medications May Lead to Improved Patient Care, Recovery

Classifying psychiatric medications by their pharmacology and mode of neurobiological action as opposed to the clinical indication for which they were first discovered may help to improve patient care and recovery, according to an international group of psychopharmacologists.

“The current nomenclature reflects a system of classification that has not received any attention for decades,” said psychiatrist David Kupfer, M.D. (pictured left), who was the chair of the DSM-5 Task Force. “Neuroscience and the science of pharmacology have advanced enormously, but our nomenclature is a thing of the past.”

A recent Psychiatric News article describes a new international initiative under way called Neuroscience-based Nomenclature (NbN)—which aims to develop a nomenclature that reflects contemporary neuroscientific knowledge—and a proposal for an updated neuropsychopharmacological nomenclature. Kupfer is one of a 10-member task force spearheading the initiative, and APA President-elect Maria Oquendo, M.D., is a member of a North American working group of the NbN.

“Referring to drugs based on the condition that they were first discovered to address presents several problems,” Oquendo told Psychiatric News. “Most importantly, it is at odds with what happens in a clinical encounter. Many psychiatrists have likely had conversations with patients who want to know why they are being prescribed an antidepressant for anxiety or an antiepileptic for a mood disorder. It is possible that this confusion can result in problems with adherence.”

Oquendo noted that in other fields of medicine, drugs are increasingly classified according to their target receptors, enzymes, ion channels, and other biologically precise targets.

“One of the best weapons we have against stigma is to reinforce the idea that psychiatric conditions are biological in nature,” Oquendo said. “A reconsideration of nomenclature would be a powerful tool in this effort.”

Oquendo and Kupfer will present a presidential symposium on the subject at APA’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

For more on the proposal to replace indication-based titles for psychiatric medications with a nomenclature based on pharmacology and neurobiological action, see the full Psychiatric News article “Psychopharmacologists Seek New Nomenclature for Psychiatric Drugs.”


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