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New Drugs No Better Than Older Ones for Schizophrenia
Date:3/28/2008

However, patients stay on the new medications longer, study finds

FRIDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Newer, so-called second-generation antipsychotics are no better than the older drug haloperidol in treating a first episode of schizophrenia, a new study finds.

However, it appears that more patients prefer the newer drugs and are more likely to continue using them than haloperidol, the study authors said.

"When we compared newer drugs to older drugs, we found that patients stay longer on the new drugs," said lead researcher Dr. Rene Kahn, a professor of psychiatry at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Earlier studies had found 70 percent of schizophrenia patients stopped taking the older antipsychotics. In the new study, 70 percent of patients kept with the newer drugs, Khan noted.

"The biggest reason that they stayed longer was that doctors perceived the newer drugs as more efficacious," Khan said. "That's the way real life is -- real life is that patients and doctors perceive their medication to have a certain efficacy."

But, if you look at improvement in symptoms and the number of times patients were hospitalized after the first treatment, then the drugs did not differ, Khan said.

The findings are published in the March 29 issue of The Lancet.

Kahn's team randomly assigned 498 patients to haloperidol, or higher-dose second-generation drugs that included amisulpride, olanzapine, quetiapine and ziprasidone.

Over the following year, 63 patients discontinued haloperidol, compared with 32 who stopped using amisulpride, 30 who stopped using olanzapine, 51 who quit quetiapine and 31 who stopped taking ziprasidone, the researchers found.

However, regardless of which medication the patients were taking, 60 percent saw a reduction in their symptoms, the researchers found. And, when the researchers looked at gender, and side effects
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