Newer Schizophrenia Drugs May Be No Better

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FRIDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Newer, "second-generation" antipsychotic drugs don't appear to be significantly better than older drugs for schizophrenia patients who require a change in medication, British researchers report.

The results contradict the widely held belief that second-generation antipsychotic drugs are safer and more effective in treating schizophrenia than less-costly first-generation antipsychotic medicines, said researchers from the University of Cambridge.

In this study, 118 patients took first-generation drugs and 109 patients took second-generation drugs. After 12 weeks of treatment, quality-of-life scores for those taking the first-generation drugs averaged 49.2, compared with 46.6 for those taking the second-generation drugs.

After 26 weeks, the scores were 49.2 for first-generation and 50.4 for second-generation. After one year, the scores were 53.2 for first-generation and 51.3 for second-generation.

"Participants reported no clear preference for either drug group; costs were similar," wrote the study authors, who also noted their findings match some recent U.S. studies.

"All the data suggest that careful prescribing of first-generation antipsychotics, at least in the context of a trial, is not associated with poorer efficacy or a greater adverse effect burden, both of which would translate into lower quality of life in the medium term," the authors noted.

The study was published in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

More information

The National Mental Health Association has more about schizophrenia.

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