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GP ‘health MOTs’ for at-risk patients

Newer second-generation antipsychotics are little if any better than generic older drugs for treating schizophrenia, a major new clinical trial concludes.

In the trial 74 per cent of patients discontinued medication and there was little difference between drugs, according to the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers from Columbia University, US, said the results ‘indicate antipsychotic drugs, though effective, have substantial limitations in chronic schizophrenia patients'.

The randomised-controlled trial of 1,493 patients with schizophrenia found the discontinuation rate was 75 per cent for the generic antipsychotic perphenazine compared with rates of between 64 and 82 per cent for four newer drugs.

Patients on olanzapine were least likely to stop taking medication but the drug was associated with greater weight gain and increases in measures of glucose and lipid metabolism.

Dr Alan Cohen, RCGP mental health spokesperson, said the study would help inform the debate but advised GPs to follow NICE guidance.

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