Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Disheartening news

NYT: Little Difference Found in Schizophrenia Drugs.
A landmark government-financed study that compared drugs used to treat schizophrenia has confirmed what many psychiatrists long suspected: newer drugs that are highly promoted and widely prescribed offer few - if any - benefits over older medicines that sell for a fraction of the cost.

The study, which looked at four new-generation drugs, called atypical antipsychotics, and one older drug, found that all five blunted the symptoms of schizophrenia, a disabling disorder that affects three million Americans. But almost three-quarters of the patients who participated stopped taking the drugs they were on because of discomfort or specific side effects.

One of the newer drugs, Zyprexa, from Eli Lilly, helped more patients control symptoms for significantly longer than the other drugs. But Zyprexa also had a higher risk of serious side effects - like weight gain - that increase the risk of diabetes.
For years, we've changed meds, adjusted meds, monitored meds. Let's keep trying, we say. Let's raise the dose, or lower it. Let's try a different one, or a combination.

When these meds truly help, they can be lifesaving. But not everyone responds.

The research I'd like to see? Study the patients who take two or more of these meds simultaneously. Or an older med combined with a newer med.

Because we will keep trying...


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