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Newer schizophrenia drug isn’t necessarily better

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Guest post by Laura Sanders

An injectable form of a newer, more expensive schizophrenia drug works no better than an older drug, scientists report May 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a randomized clinical trial of 311 people with schizophrenia, injections of paliperidone palmitate failed to alleviate schizophrenia symptoms just as often as did injections of haloperidol decanoate, a drug that’s been around for decades.

A single injection of paliperidone palmitate, a second-generation antipsychotic, costs about $1000 in the United States. An injection of haloperidol costs only about $35.

The two drugs caused different side effects: In some patients, haloperidol led to muscle tremors and restlessness and paliperidone palmitate caused weight gain. Knowledge of these different side effects — and not differences in effectiveness — might be useful in deciding which drug a person ought to take.  

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