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New Antipsychotic Medications have Little Advantage Over Older Drugs

treatment was being considered for clinical reasons, most commonly suboptimal efficacy or adverse effects,” the authors write.

The participants were randomly assigned to receive one class of drug or the other. Physicians determined which of the many first- or second-generation medications would be best for each patient. Participants were assessed before and 12, 26 and 52 weeks after the change in treatment using a quality of life scale, with higher scores reflecting a better quality of life. The researchers estimated that second-generation antipsychotics would produce a five-point improvement in quality of life scores compared with first-generation antipsychotics. Symptoms, side effects, treatment costs and satisfaction with the drug also were measured.

Of the 227 patients, 118 (52 percent) were randomly assigned to take first-generation medications and 109 (48 percent) to second-generation medications. After 12 weeks, quality of life scores averaged 49.2 for the first-generation group and 46.6 for the second-generation group; after 26 weeks, 49.2 for first-generation and 50.4 for second-generation; and after one year, 53.2 for first-generation and 51.3 for second-generation. “Participants in the first-generation antipsychotic arm showed a trend toward greater improvements in Quality of Life Scale and symptom scores,” the authors write. “Participants reported no clear preference for either drug group; costs were similar.”

Although surprising, these results align with other recent studies performed in the United States, they continue. “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 conclude. “This suggests that despite recent policy statements and prescribing patterns, further randomized and other eva
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