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Antipsychotic drugs

Studies expose the ugly truth about antipsychotic drugs

Tuesday, February 08, 2011 by: Monica G. Young
Tags: antipsychotic drugs, side effcts, health news

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(NewsTarget) Despite all the hype about atypical antipsychotics being safer than the older antipsychotics, studies show these too are very dangerous. Yet atypicals are now the best-selling class of drugs in the U.S. and are widely prescribed not only for schizophrenia, but also for depression, anxiety, and many other off-label uses.

Horrific adverse effects of the older or "typical" antipsychotics (still in use today) are well documented. Tardive dsykinesia (TD) occurs in 15-30% of cases after long term use. This is a humiliating neurological disorder, characterized by repetitive involuntary facial and body movements. Akathisia, another common effect, involves severe internal restlessness described by patients as "chemical torture". Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a more rare result, but can lead to coma and death.

In the 1990s drug makers introduced a new generation of antipsychotics, hailing these as much safer. They designated them "atypical" to dissociate them from "typical" antipsychotics. They upped the price 10-30x; a month's supply can be $500 or more.

Recent research at Stanford University School of Medicine and University of Chicago disproves the hype. "Atypical agents were once thought to be safer and possibly more effective," states G. Caleb Alexander, MD, assistant professor of medicine at University of Chicago Medical Center. "And what we've learned over time is that they are not safer, and in the settings where there's the best scientific evidence, they are no more effective."

Furthermore, Dr. Randall Stafford, who worked on the study, says, "more than half of the uses for the newer-generation antipsychotics did not have strong evidence behind them."..."Not only were these uses not approved by the FDA, they didn't even have the sort of evidence that we expect of drugs that are going to be widely used."

Science writer Robert Whitaker investigated the clinical trial originally used by Eli Lilly to gain FDA approval for Zyprexa. Of the 2,500 subjects, two-thirds never completed the trial. Among the rest, 22 percent suffered a "serious" adverse effect, compared to 18 percent in the group taking a typical drug. In his book, "Mad In America", Whitaker reports that one in every 145 subjects who entered the trials for Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel, and Serdolect had died

These newer drugs commonly cause excessive weight gain and can lead to diabetes. Per Whitaker's findings, 16 percent of Zyprexa users gain 66 pounds, some over 100.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, atypical users showed double the rate of sudden cardiac death compared to non-users, the same death rate as patients taking typical antipsychotics.

Drug advocates claim atypicals cause Tardive Dsykinesia at a very low rate. But Peter Breggin MD, an expert witness in many TD lawsuits, says this is simply untrue.

Other side effects reported include enlarged breasts in males, altered menstrual cycles in females and even infertility.

Atypicals carry a black box warning of death for dementia patients. Yet a quarter of nursing home residents have taken them.

Psychiatrists often put schizophrenic patients on 2-3 antipsychotics (also called "neuroleptics") simultaneously. In one patient's words, "neuroleptic drugs slowly kill you."

Despite the extreme risks, child prescriptions for atypical drugs have increased by over 800% since 1995.

The money trail is clear. Drug company annual revenue from antipsychotics has grown from under $500 million in the early 90's to over $10 billion today.

The dictionary definition of psychotic includes "deterioration of normal social functioning." Perhaps these drug makers should look in the mirror.






About the author

Monica G. Young is a lifelong advocate for human rights. She is an educational researcher and writer with a purpose to expose the truth about the pharmaceutical and psychiatric industries. She encourages non-drug alternative approaches based on healthy lifestyles and human decency.

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