To date, only two products have gained approval for the treatment of ASDs; Risperdal (risperidone; Johnson & Johnson) and Abilify (aripiprazole; Bristol-Myers Squibb/Otsuka Pharmaceuticals) are both approved in the US for the treatment of irritability associated with autistic disorder.
ASDs are a complex spectrum of disorders, largely heterogeneous in etiology and symptomatology. Increasing public awareness of the milder symptoms of the disorders would serve to aid earlier recognition and presentation. In addition, increasing physician education in relation to the use of validated screening tools would aid earlier diagnosis.
Given that only two products are approved in the US for one of the behavioural symptoms of ASDs, physicians largely rely on off-label prescribing for the majority of symptoms. With few marketing strategies currently employed, primary care physician detailing has the potential to boost product uptake in the ASDs market.
Targeting the core symptoms of ASDs represents a "high-risk, high-reward" strategy given the heterogeneity of patient presentation and unknown etiologies, yet high population base. Meanwhile, the traditional route into the ASDs market - targeting of individual symptoms - represents a "low-risk, low-reward" strategy.
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