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New Antipsychotics Drugs Aren't Created Equal

Patients Who Do Poorly on One May Show Improvement on Another

Cost Is an Issue continued...

The older drugs still have a place in the treatment of schizophrenia, says psychiatrist and antipsychotic drug researcher David Garver, MD, because they cost far less than the newer drugs -- as much as 100 times less than some of them.

"Any mental health system that is trying to survive on a limited budget has a real incentive to use the older drugs," the University of Louisville professor of psychiatry tells WebMD. "In general, they have probably been used in this country in doses that were too high in the past. Recent studies suggest that patients do almost as well on low doses of Haldol as on the newer atypicals."

Haldol is also one of the only antipsychotic medications that can be delivered by injection. This is important because compliance with daily oral medication is very poor among schizophrenic patients. It is estimated that three out of four patients frequently skip doses, which can lead to worsening of symptoms.

"It is a rare schizophrenic patient who will take all of his or her medication," Garver says. "We are recognizing more and more that compliance is a major problem with treatment."

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