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Pet medication for deadly cat illness soon to be available in US: 'Huge triumph'

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Pet medication for deadly cat illness soon to be available in US: 'Huge triumph'

Many cat owners are rejoicing at the news that a drug used to treat an otherwise fatal illness for cats will be available in the United States as of June 1. 

“Stokes Pharmacy has formed an exclusive partnership with the Bova Group to offer a U.S.-made compounded oral treatment for feline infectious peritonitis (FIP),” according to a statement from Stokes Pharmacy, a New Jersey-based compounding pharmacy. 

Bova, a veterinary pharmaceuticals company based in the U.K. and Australia, began selling GS-441524, a drug compound to treat FIP, in 2021 — but the drug was not available for sale in the United States. 

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“This treatment is supported by Bova’s unique drug formula, which has been used in clinical research studies across the globe and is currently in use in the U.K. and Australia,” said Stokes. 

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Fox News Digital reached out to Stokes Pharmacy for further comment. 

A drug that has been used in other countries to successfully treat FIP – an illness that kills cats unless treated – is now available in the United States. (iStock)

In a May 10 statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said there are “certain conditions where the agency does not intend to take enforcement actions for compounded products for use in animals,” and that the drugs are still not technically FDA-approved. 

FIP is a “viral disease of cats caused by certain strains of a virus called the feline coronavirus,” according to the website for Cornell University’s Feline Health Center. 

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While most feline coronaviruses are relatively harmless and resolve on their own, the virus sometimes mutates into what is known as FIP. 

“Once a cat develops clinical FIP, the disease is usually progressive and almost always fatal,” the Cornell website states.

Until now, U.S. cat owners have had to turn to the “black market” to obtain a drug that was not yet approved in this country. 

cat at the vet

While most feline coronaviruses are relatively harmless and resolve on their own, the virus sometimes mutates into what is known as FIP.  (iStock)

FIP Warriors, a group founded in March 2019 that helps connect cat owners with medications needed to treat their cats, told Fox News Digital that they are “cautiously optimistic” at the news that veterinarians will be able to prescribe treatment for cats with FIP. 

Still, the group noted, “We have very little factual information at this time and eagerly await more details from Bova and Stokes to become available. We are in direct contact with Bova and will be sharing all updates we receive with the entire FIP Warriors community.” 

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“Our sincere hope is that a safe, affordable and easily accessible medication option will help treat and cure as many FIP cats as possible and that this is a positive first step toward that goal,” the group added.

“We will continue our diligent work to educate both veterinarians and cat parents as the FIP landscape evolves.”

“Within 48 hours, I could see that my cat was starting to feel better, and within a week she was back to normal.”

One of the cat owners helped by the FIP Warriors organization told Fox News Digital about what she went through to save her cat. 

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Jessica Guyette, a resident of Washington, D.C., told Fox News Digital that she returned home from a trip to discover that one of her two cats had lost a significant amount of weight and was acting strangely. 

calico cat looking sick and then healthy

Jessica Guyette of Washington, D.C., successfully treated her cat’s FIP with a drug regimen not yet legal in the United States. Above is her cat, pictured while sick, left, and after she was cured, right. (Jessica Guyette)

After several vet visits, Guyette was informed that her cat had FIP — and that there was nothing legally that could be done. 

A veterinarian “secretly suggested” that she turn to online groups to acquire the drugs that might save her cat, which is what led her to FIP Warriors. 

“At this point, there were no other options,” she said. “She was still losing weight, very lethargic, and I could tell that she was dying.” 

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Guyette, who works as a researcher for the National Institutes of Health, said she and her cat saw quick results.

“Within 48 hours, I could see that my cat was starting to feel better, and within a week she was back to normal,” she said — describing the overall experience of trying to save her as “terrifying.” 

She added, “I brought her in [to the vet] every month to run blood tests and the vet was astonished to find that she was back to normal, when she had been on the brink of death.”

Hannah Shaw posing with cat

Hannah Shaw, known on YouTube as the “Kitten Lady,” runs a nonprofit to rescue kittens and to educate others on how to care for vulnerable kittens. (Andrew Marttila)

Activist and author Hannah Shaw, founder of the nonprofit organization Kitten Lady, also treated her own cat, Coco, for FIP using black market drugs and documented the process on her YouTube channel, “Kitten Lady.” 

“It is a huge triumph that FIP — which has been considered a fatal disease for so long — is now able to be legally treated by veterinarians,” the California-based Shaw told Fox News Digital via email.

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“This moment is the culmination of years of research, advocacy and activism from a movement that is sick of seeing cats die due to lacking access to lifesaving treatment.”

Shaw’s latest book, “Cats of the World,” will be released in October.

In the past, when veterinarians were told to “remain hands-off” when advising cat owners about treating FIP, it was “confusing and isolating for people who discover that their cats have been diagnosed with the disease,” she said.

Even more frustrating, said Shaw, was how “animal advocates have been successfully treating cats for FIP for a number of years, but navigating that care has been incredibly complicated for the average cat guardian.” 

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Coco, one of Shaw’s cats, developed FIP while undergoing chemotherapy, she told Fox News Digital.

It was only due to “total strangers on the internet” that Shaw was able to obtain the medication and successfully treat Coco, she said.

Closeup shorthair cat sitting on cat tree or condo

“It is a huge triumph that FIP — which has been considered a fatal disease for so long — is now able to be legally treated by veterinarians,” an activist told Fox News Digital. (iStock)

“GS-441524 completely cured her of FIP, and thanks to the drug, I got another amazing two years with her,” she said. 

The ability for veterinarians to discuss FIP treatment with cat owners and for the drugs to be obtained through legal means is a “massive win,” Shaw said, “and is going to help so many people save their cats’ lives.” 

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“This moment is the culmination of years of research, advocacy and activism from a movement that is sick of seeing cats die due to lacking access to lifesaving treatment, and it’s a huge cause for celebration,” she added.

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Your June 2024 Horoscope: What’s in Store for You Based on Your Sign

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5 myths about schizophrenia, according to a mental health expert: ‘Huge stigma’

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5 myths about schizophrenia, according to a mental health expert: ‘Huge stigma’

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About 1% of Americans, or nearly 3.5 million people, are affected by schizophrenia — yet the mental disorder remains highly stigmatized and misunderstood, experts say.

The reason, according to Brooke Kempf, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner based in Indiana, is a general lack of knowledge about schizophrenia.

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“People may see somebody hallucinating and think, ‘That is schizophrenia,’ when there’s so much more to the illness,” she told Fox News Digital in an interview. 

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“It’s important for people to recognize that schizophrenia is a diagnosed and treatable medical condition.”

For World Schizophrenia Day, Kempf shared some of the most common myths and misconceptions surrounding the disorder.

Approximately 1% of Americans, or nearly 3.5 million people, are affected by schizophrenia — yet the mental disorder remains highly stigmatized and misunderstood, experts say. (iStock)

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Here’s a look at five. 

Myth No. 1: People with schizophrenia are violent

One of the greatest and “most harmful” myths is the notion that people living with schizophrenia are “scary” or “violent,” Kempf said.

“There is a long history of conflating TV or movie characters who are behaving in odd, confusing or frightening ways with a diagnosis of schizophrenia,” she said. 

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“However, we have to remember that these are made-up, dramatized situations. A diagnosis of schizophrenia doesn’t have anything to do with what we see on the screen.”

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When patients with schizophrenia experience an acute episode — perhaps having delusions or hearing voices — they might behave differently than they typically would, sometimes seeming angry or violent.

“The person is likely experiencing something within themselves that they might be arguing about or responding to, but they aren’t targeting anything toward another person,” Kempf said.

schizophrenia split

When a patient with schizophrenia is experiencing an acute episode — perhaps having delusions or hearing voices — they might behave differently than they typically would, sometimes seeming angry or violent. (iStock)

When symptoms are managed with medication, “you would probably have no idea of their diagnosis,” she noted.

“Through my long history of working in community mental health and hearing their stories, I know that people living with schizophrenia are good, caring, loving people,” Kempf said. 

“They are more likely,” she added, “to be the victim of a violent crime than the perpetrator of one.”

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Myth No. 2: People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities

There is a misconception that people with schizophrenia have multiple personalities, which could be because the Greek word “schizophrenia” means “split mind,” Kempf noted.

“However, people with schizophrenia do not have split personalities,” she said. 

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“They might have different behavioral characteristics when they’re ill and experiencing an episode, but it’s not because they have a split personality.”

Myth No. 3: People with schizophrenia are not intelligent

This assumption is completely false, according to Kempf.

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“If the illness isn’t well managed and continues to progress, or they have repeated relapses, patients will lose gray matter in their brains, and their cognitive function may decline,” she told Fox News Digital.

“But that does not mean they’re not intelligent.”

Man talking to a doctor

One expert said she’s worked with a multitude of “very successful individuals who also happen to live with schizophrenia.” (iStock)

Some patients may experience cognitive decline in the early stages of the disease — referred to as the “prodromal phase,” Kempf said — but early diagnosis and intervention can help prevent that.

Kempf said she has worked with a multitude of “very successful individuals who also happen to live with schizophrenia.”

“People with schizophrenia do not have split personalities.”

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In many cases, she noted, people can no longer see the “highly intelligent individual” behind the disease.

“As long as individuals with schizophrenia get the proper treatment — ideally with a long-acting injectable (LAI) medication — they can keep their symptoms controlled and function very well,” Kempf said. 

Myth No. 4: Symptoms of schizophrenia only involve hallucinations and delusions

Schizophrenia consists of what is clinically termed “positive” and “negative” symptoms, Kempf noted.

“Delusions and hallucinations, as well as changes in behavior and thoughts, are considered positive symptoms,” she said. 

schizophrenia symptoms

“Delusions and hallucinations, as well as changes in behavior and thoughts, are considered positive symptoms” of schizophrenia, the expert said.  (iStock)

Patients experiencing these symptoms may hear voices or have extra thoughts, delusions or fixed false beliefs, the expert explained. 

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“Hallucinations are not just hearing voices,” Kempf said. “They can occur in multiple ways based on our senses — seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling things.”

Negative symptoms are when people lose interest in the world around them, withdraw or don’t take an interest in everyday social interactions, according to Kempf. 

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“Patients with schizophrenia may get labeled as ‘lazy,’ or they don’t seem as put together,” she said. “But it’s not about laziness. The person’s brain doesn’t connect these things as being important.”

People with schizophrenia may also experience what are referred to as “psychomotor” symptoms, Kempf said — they might seem abnormally slow, and their speech and thought processes can be somewhat delayed or disorganized.

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“Unfortunately, if these negative symptoms continue and there isn’t treatment, they can impact cognitive functioning.”

Myth No. 5: People with schizophrenia require long-term or lifelong hospitalization

Hospitalization for a person experiencing acute schizophrenia symptoms is usually very short, according to Kempf. 

“For someone having an episode of schizophrenia, the average length of stay may be about five days.”

“In an inpatient setting, for someone having an episode of schizophrenia, the average length of stay may be about five days,” she said.

“If a patient doesn’t respond to medication and can’t function safely on their own, they might have to go to a longer-term, higher-level setting.”

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Today, health care providers aim to give people with schizophrenia community-based services so that they’re able to function on their own, Kempf noted.

This might mean supporting them with employment services and housing opportunities to ensure that they have an affordable and safe place to live. 

“Some patients continue to live with their family members; some might live in a group home,” Kempf said.

“People living with this disease deserve to be treated like human beings and with the same care we would provide someone diagnosed with a physical illness.”

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From a medical perspective, schizophrenia has different levels of severity, the expert noted. 

“But, again, if managed well, with early intervention, an individual can remain high-functioning and live independently,” she said. 

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“Our goal is the least structured environment possible, enabling the person to live a normal life where they can work, grocery shop and drive on a day-to-day basis.” 

Ultimately, Kempf said, schizophrenia should be viewed as a disease, not a choice. 

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Female doctor with male patient

“While schizophrenia is a mental health diagnosis, it should be thought of no differently than a physical health diagnosis of diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease,” an expert said. (iStock)

“While schizophrenia is a mental health diagnosis, it should be thought of no differently than a physical health diagnosis of diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease,” she said.

“It just impacts a different organ: the brain.”

Other brain disorders, such as epilepsy, tend to be more accepted by society, she said — but there is still a “huge stigma” surrounding diseases like schizophrenia, “probably because of the fear of the unknown.”

“It is treatable, and both medication and support services are available,” she told Fox News Digital. 

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“We all have a role to play in helping to dispel myths, foster understanding and reduce stigma,” she continued. 

“People living with this disease deserve to be treated like human beings and with the same care we would provide someone diagnosed with a physical illness.”

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The Crossfit Diet: What It Is, Risks and More | Woman's World

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