The British Journal of Psychiatry has just published the latest in a long line of studies to find that the newer ‘atypical’ or ‘second generation’ antipsychotic drugs are barely better than the old style medications and has a stinging editorial that accompanies the piece calling out years of drug company marketing spun as an illusory advance in medical science.
Unfortunately both are locked (after all, you’d just worry yourself with all those facts) but here is the last paragraph of the editorial. It leaves no ass unkicked.
In creating successive new classes of antipsychotics over the years, the industry has helped develop a broader range of different drugs with different side-effect profiles and potencies, and possibly an increased chance of finding a drug to suit each of our patients. But the price of doing this has been considerable – in 2003 the cost of antipsychotics in the USA equalled the cost of paying all their psychiatrists.
The story of the atypicals and the SGAs ['second-generation antipsychotics'] is not the story of clinical discovery and progress; it is the story of fabricated classes, money and marketing. The study published today is a small but important piece of the jigsaw completing a picture that undermines any clinical or scientific confidence in these classes.
With the industry reputation damaged by evidence of selective publishing and its deleterious effects, and the recent claims that trials of at least one of the new atypicals have been knowingly ‘buried’, it will take a great deal for psychiatrists to be persuaded that the next new discovery of a drug or a class will be anything more than a cynical tactic to generate profit. In the meantime, perhaps we can drop the atypical, second-generation, brand new and very expensive labels: they are all just plain antipsychotics.
Link to locked editorial ‘The rise and fall of the atypical antipsychotics’.