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Anti-psychotic drugs

Entire medical field conned by exaggerated claims for newer, more expensive antipsychotic drugs

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 by: Jessica Fraser
Tags: anti-psychotic drugs, prescription drug costs, schizophrenia


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(NewsTarget) A new study funded by the British government has found that schizophrenia patients receive the same or sometimes better results from taking older antipsychotic drugs, compared to newer drugs that can cost 10 times more.

The study was requested by Britain's National Health Service to determine if newer drugs were worth the difference in price. The researchers conducting the trial were so convinced they would find the newer drugs far more effective that they double-checked their results to ensure the trial data had not been recorded backward.

The researchers randomly assigned 227 schizophrenia patients to one of two groups. The first group was treated with an older drug, and the other was given a newer antipsychotic, then both groups were followed for more than a year by experts who were unaware of which group had taken which drug. Though the researchers had expected quality of life to be significantly better for the group taking the newer drug, the study revealed that the group taking the older drug experienced a slightly better quality of life.

The study's lead author, psychiatrist Peter Jones from the University of Cambridge, said that because the data showed no difference between the two drugs, "...the notion you would pay 10 times as much would be difficult to justify." Jones went on to say that psychiatrists around the world had been "beguiled" by pharmaceutical marketing techniques.

Health author and drug advertising critic Mike Adams says the entire medical field was "hoodwinked" by drug companies' marketing hype. "Even doctors, who claim to strictly follow evidence-based medicine, are easily conned into writing prescriptions for inferior drugs that cost ten times as much as less glitzy alternatives," Adams said.

Eli Lilly and Co. -- maker of Zyprexa, a new and expensive antipsychotic -- issued a statement questioning the researchers' findings. Janssen Pharmaceutica and AstraZeneca -- makers of the new, expensive drugs Risperdal and Seroquel -- have not responded to the study's findings.

The study has led Jones and other psychiatrists to question why healthcare workers became so convinced that newer drugs were better. Jones theorizes that drug company studies showed such positive results because they focused only on short-term results -- since the FDA requires as little as two weeks of drug safety studies for psychiatric drugs before approval -- instead of long-term effectiveness. "I think that pharmaceutical companies did a great job of selling their product," Jones said.

Adams says a large part of the problem is drug companies bribing doctors to support their product. "This finding further demonstrates why the advertising of drugs and legalized bribery of doctors needs to be halted," Adams said. "Pharmaceutical marketing isn't based on science at all -- it's based on lies, distortions, half-truths and wishful thinking."

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