DAILY / MAY 22, 2017  
Psychiatric News Update

Experts Describe Ongoing Efforts to Shift Conversation on Psychiatric Medications

David J. Kupfer, M.D.
At a Presidential Symposium held Monday, members of the neuroscience-based nomenclature (NbN) task force discussed the history and future of their nearly decade-long effort to change psychotropic medicine descriptions to reflect their molecular targets or mode of action instead of an arbitrary indication.

Session chair David J. Kupfer, M.D. (pictured above), a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said adopting NbN would benefit not only psychiatry and neurology research, but also patients who receive these medications. No longer would someone feel stigma for being prescribed an antidepressant to help with insomnia, or an antipsychotic to help with depression.

Joseph Zohar M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Tel Aviv University and chair of the NbN taskforce started the session with a history of this effort, which is sponsored by five international neuropsychopharmacological research organizations. The presentations then focused on the project moving forward, especially the two major initiatives for 2017-2018.

Michael Travis, M.D., also of the University of Pittsburgh, described an ongoing effort to collaborate with health centers and mental health organizations to educate psychiatry residents about drug nomenclature. Travis explained that he would like to get the next generation of physicians thinking differently about these medications. It doesn't have to be a major adjustment, explained Kupfer. “Even a little shift like calling fluoxetine a drug that can treat depression instead of an antidepressant can help,” he said.

Another initiative involves the NbN’s mobile application. As Deborah Bilder, M.D., a child psychiatrist at the University of Utah explained, the app in an easily-searchable tool that contains detailed information on 130 psychotropic medications (such as pharmacology, mode of action, approved indications, side effects, and former terminology). It was designed to help facilitate dissemination of this new system, especially in the scientific journal literature. Bilder noted that NbN is currently working to develop a second mobile app specific to child and adolescent psychiatry.

“We are glad that the APA has recognized this NbN initiative by designating this session as a presidential symposium,” Kupfer said. “We believe that adopting this nomenclature will enable psychiatrists to better educate patients, their families, and other health professionals about psychopharmacology, and do so in a sensitive way.”



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