New Anti-Psychotic Drugs No Better Than Older, Cheaper Ones

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A study led by The University of Manchester's Division of Psychiatry has found that schizophrenia patients respond just as well - and perhaps even better - to older psychiatric drugs as newer, costlier alternatives.

According to the study, funded by the NHS and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, patients with schizophrenia whose medication is being changed gain little benefit from being put on the newer drugs - despite their much larger market share. This runs contrary to the widely-held view that second-generation anti-psychotics are safer and more effective than the less expensive first-generation.

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Antipsychotic medication is the main method of treating schizophrenia, with most UK patients currently receiving second-generation drugs through the NHS which cost at least 10 times more than their predecessors. Previous, industry-sponsored trials reported these newer drugs to be more effective and better tolerated, leading most experts to currently recommend using them first despite their additional cost.

Study leader Professor Shфn Lewis said: "The development of second-generation anti-psychotics was thought to be a major advance, as the first trials seemed to show they reduced side effects. Claims that they were also more effective than first-generation drugs shifted treatment patterns away from these medications, even though previous research comparing the drug classes has had mixed results."

The NHS commissioned the study

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