A Manchester University that conducted a study on schizophrenic patients has come up with a finding that the patients respond just as well to the older anti-psychotic drugs.
The study was conducted upon 227 schizophrenia patients who needed a change in drugs as the treatment they were getting was ineffective. They were then grouped and some were put on old drugs and others on new. Experienced doctors decided which type of anti-psychotic drug , new or old , would be best for each patient.
Overall, no advantage whatsoever, in side effects or effectiveness was seen in those who were on new drugs.
It is widely believed that newer anti-psychotic drugs are safer and more effective, though they are expensive.They are also preferred by patients because they have fewer side effects.
Second-generation anti-psychotics were once regarded as a great breakthrough. But the researchers now feel that it might be better to switch back to the older drugs to minimise healthcare costs.
Atypical antipsychotics like risperidone, quetiapine, clozapine and olanzapine, cost a lot more, at least ten times more than their precursors. But a parallel trial, also funded by the NHS, confirms previous findings that one new antipsychotic called clozapine was most effective in treating advanced schizophrenia.
Jo Loughran, who works for the mental health charity, Rethink, said that it cannot be generalized and both types of drugs old and new could have different benefits and side effects for different people.
Old Anti-psychotic Drugs Are Equally Good
Lead researcher Professor Shôn Lewis says : 'Despite modern prescribing patterns, second-generation anti-psychotics are not the great breakthrough they were once thought to be-and certainly may not justify their 10-times higher price tag.'
The government's drugs watchdog NICE feels that patients should be informed of both types and given a chance to decide. However, people with schizophrenia who are already taking an older antipsychotic that is working for them should not switch to a newer drug it adds.