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Sunday 03 December 2006

Older schizophrenia drug works, costs less: Study

By: Bureau Report,

A new study finds that an older antipsychotic drug is cheaper and equally effective for some patients with schizophrenia, sending makers of newer drugs scrambling to defend their products on Friday.

The American Journal of Psychiatry study concluded that the older, first-generation antipsychotic drug perphenazine was less expensive and as effective as newer medications such as AstraZeneca Plc`s Seroquel and Eli Lilly and Co.`s Zyprexa.

Funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the $42.6 million study suggests doctors should consider the use of older antipsychotics as a first choice for patients with schizophrenia, a group of psychotic diseases marked by delusions and hallucinations.

"There could be a very useful role -- from a clinical and cost-effectiveness standpoint -- for greater utilization of some older-generation medications," said Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center and the study`s lead author.

Currently, the lion`s share of antipsychotic prescriptions -- more than 90 percent -- are written for second-generation drugs, which also include Johnson & Johnson`s Risperdal, known by the chemical name risperidone, and Pfizer Inc.`s Geodon, also known as ziprasidone.

The brand name drugs cost about $200 to $300 per month, or 40 to 50 percent more than the older generic drugs, according to the study.

Lieberman said physicians should not automatically exclude perphenazine and other older drugs from the range of options.

"It`s not like you are practicing antiquated medicine by using the older medications," he said. "These results will enable doctors to be aware of the cost considerations when they are making their choice in treatments."

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