Studies Compare New Antipsychotic Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The antipsychotic drug quetiapine and, to some extent the drug olanzapine, may be more effective than risperidone in treating psychiatric patients who've had to stop using an older generation drug called perphenazine, U.S. researchers report.

The findings are from the multi-center Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE), funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

In this study, 114 patients who stopped taking perphenazine agreed to take one of three newer antipsychotic drugs -- quetiapine, olanzapine or risperidone. Researchers compared how long the patients kept taking the new drugs.

Patients taking quetiapine stayed on the drug for an average of 10 months before they stopped taking it, compared to seven months for those taking olanzapine and four months for those taking risperidone.

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"These results reinforce the fact that finding the most effective medications for each patient sometimes means trying multiple medications. They remind us of the considerable variability in clinical circumstances and of our need to be responsive to an individual's needs and preferences," researcher Dr. T. Scott Stroup, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a prepared statement.

"CATIE continues to fine-tune our understanding of how our arsenal of antipsychotic medications work in real-world settings, but it also is revealing to us what questions we still must address," Dr. Thomas R. Insel, NIMH director, said in a prepared statement.

The study is published in the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

A second study from CATIE in the same issue of the journal found that antipsychotic drugs can modestly improve schizophrenia patients'' social, interpersonal and community living skills.

"Over the long run, patients are more likely to function better in the community if they are able to stay on their initial treatment, especially those who are the most impaired. More intensive rehabilitative interventions and outreach may help patients stick with their treatment and make greater gains," researcher Dr. Marvin Swartz, of Duke University, said in a prepared statement.

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