Luye Pharma Holds Its First Middle East & North Africa Psychiatry Symposium

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Recognition of the Group’s international academic brand set to increase with move into new region

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Luye Pharma Group held its first Middle East & North Africa Psychiatry Symposium on November 19, attracting the online attendance of hundreds of psychiatrists from multiple countries and regions, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and Tunisia. Panel speakers discussed the latest developments in the diagnosis and treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder, alongside issues associated with tackling these mental healthcare challenges against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Middle East & North Africa Psychiatry Symposium comes as part of a series of international psychiatry symposiums, now in their third year, organized by Luye Pharma Group, and is the first of its kind in the region. The Group held two similar events previously this year, targeting the professional psychiatric communities in the APAC and Latin American regions.

Lectures at the symposium were given by Professors Dr. Michael Edward Thase from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Roger Mclntyre from the University of Toronto, and Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan, the Founder & Clinical Director of MindWell Kuwait. The agenda included talks on the state of the art in screening, diagnosing, and treating bipolar disorder, challenges in the management of bipolar depression and novel therapies for treatment resistant depression (TRD).

The importance of addressing MDD and bipolar disorder

According to the WHO Global Burden of Illness study, MDD is the world’s leading cause of disability. As of 2020, around 264 million people were estimated to be suffering from the disease globally, with less than 50% receiving treatment. Recurrence is high, with 50-85% of sufferers experiencing at least one further episode, while up to 80% of those with TRD will relapse within a year of achieving symptom remission.

Bipolar disorder is severe mental disorder and typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Patients with the disorder also face a high risk of suicide, which left untreated may be 20 times higher than in the general population. Accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder is difficult in clinical practice because onset is most commonly a depressive episode and looks similar to MDD.

Given the significant global health burden posed by depression and bipolar disorder, knowledge of the evolving pharmacological and psychological strategies in addressing these diseases is of utmost importance.

Diagnostic and treatment challenges with MDD and bipolar disorder

Around 20-30% of MDD patients will develop TRD. The antidepressant therapeutic area contains a number of unmet needs in treating TRD. Randomized clinical trials of first and second line antidepressants suggest only a 10-20% advantage over placebos, indicating limited specific efficacy in TRD. These drugs are also relatively slow to act, intolerable for 10% of patients and manifest inconsistent effects on key symptoms, such as insomnia and anxiety. Symposium experts noted that as all first and second-line pharmacotherapies target monoamine systems, patients with TRD might require treatments that target different MoAs.

In the case of bipolar disorder, the diagnosis rate is low, and misdiagnosis and underdiagnosis rates are high. Participating experts at the symposium noted the challenge of distinguishing bipolar depression from MDD and the frequency of bipolar disorder’s misdiagnosis as MDD, emphasizing the importance of depression patient screening for bipolar spectrum and for practitioners to be vigilant for “transition” from MDD to bipolar disorder when providing care longitudinally. Factors associated with greater suspicion for bipolar spectrum include elevated/expansive mood, past mixed episodes, agitation, irritability, impulsivity, sleep disruption, or suicidality in response to previous antidepressants, multiple past intolerances to antidepressant treatment trials, variable clinical presentations, past suicide attempts, comorbidities (e.g., compulsive behaviors, ADHD symptoms), impulsivity and a family history of bipolarity. Quetiapine was listed in the lecture as one of the first-line treatments for bipolar depression in the CANMAT/ISBD 2018 guidelines.

Experts at the symposium also mentioned that patients suffering from mental disorders have higher rates of both hospitalization and mortality due to COVID-19, suggesting that where depression or bipolar disorder was present, physicians should strongly encourage their patients to remain up-to-date with vaccinations and maintain a fully vaccinated status where possible.

Luye Pharma: building academic platforms in the CNS field to provide support for physicians

The Luye Psychiatry Symposium is positioned to be forward-looking, practical, and innovative, and acts as an academic platform combining the most up-to-date topics on the frontiers of psychiatry and clinical practice. Topics of the 2021 symposiums focused on the needs of mental health services today and intend to address the difficulties and challenges of particular concern to psychiatrists. The symposiums held for the Asia Pacific, Latin America and Middle East & North Africa regions in 2021 attracted close to 2,000 healthcare professionals, covered 20 countries and regions and exerted significant influence, attracting a high level of professional attention.

Luye Pharma, the event organizer, has long been working in the central nervous system (CNS) therapeutic area. In addition to offering high-quality and innovative drugs, the company is also committed to providing professional support and services to physicians and patients. Zhou Jun, Vice President of Marketing at Luye Pharma (International), said, “It is encouraging to see the growing recognition of this academic platform among physicians as we expand to cover more global regions. We hope to provide professional support and service to more healthcare professionals around the world, and going forward, will increase investments in these activities with the hope of further driving academic exchange and building brand recognition, while providing better support for development of clinical treatment in the CNS field.”

About Luye Pharma Group

Luye Pharma Group is an international pharmaceutical company dedicated to the R&D, manufacturing and sale of innovative medications. The company has established R&D centers in China, the U.S. and Europe, with a robust pipeline of over 30 drug candidates in China and more than 10 drug candidates in other international markets. Along with a number of new drugs and new formulations in the central nervous system and oncology therapeutic areas under study in the U.S. Europe and Japan, Luye Pharma has reached high-level international standards in novel drug delivery technologies including microspheres, liposomes, and transdermal drug delivery systems, as well as actively making strategic developments in the fields of biological antibodies, cell therapies and gene therapies, among others.

Luye Pharma is developing a global supply chain of 8 manufacturing sites with over 30 production lines in total, establishing GMP quality management and international standard control systems. With more than 30 products covering the central nervous system, oncology, cardiovascular, metabolism and other therapeutic areas, business is conducted in over 80 countries and regions around the world, including the largest pharmaceutical markets – China, the U.S., Europe and Japan, as well as in fast growing emerging markets.