The latest antipsychotic drugs may not be any more effective than the older, conventional ones used for treating illnesses such as schizophrenia, according to trials carried out last year.
Trials on nearly 3000 patients found newer drugs such as olanzapine and sertindole have been found to have the same effect as the older drugs risperidone and clozapine at relieving ‘positive’ symptoms of schizophrenia (these include hallucinations and delusions).
On the other hand, there is no evidence that the new drugs, introduced in late 1996, are any better at relieving ‘negative’ symptoms, such as apathy and social dysfunction. This is particularly disturbing because the older drugs, used since the 1950s, have had very limited success with the negative symptoms. It now seems these newer drugs have fared no better (Drug Ther Bull, 1997, 35: 81-3).