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Antipsychotic Drugs and Mortality Link Explored

Study recommends that restrictions on use of clozapine should be reassessed

MONDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Second-generation schizophrenia drugs are highly heterogeneous in terms of their impact of mortality rates for schizophrenia patients, and given its substantially lower mortality rate, restrictions on the drug clozapine should be reassessed, according to a study published online July 13 in The Lancet.

Jari Tiihonen, M.D., of the University of Kuopio in Finland, and colleagues analyzed mortality data on 66,881 schizophrenia patients and Finland's total population of 5.2 million people and linked the data to the use of antipsychotic drugs.

Use of the second-generation antipsychotic drug quetiapine had 41 percent higher odds of mortality than current use of perphenazine, while the odds for clozapine were 26 percent lower than current use of perphenazine, the investigators discovered. Exposure to any antipsychotic medication for seven to 11 years was associated with reduced mortality compared to no medication for schizophrenia, the researchers note.

"Restrictions on use of clozapine and thioridazine have not been based on any evidence for their overall ratio of risk to benefit. Our results suggest that these instructions and recommendations (except for blood monitoring) might have caused thousands of premature deaths worldwide in patients who have been exposed to other antipsychotic drugs, which might be associated with increased mortality," the authors write. "In our opinion, such restrictions and recommendations should be based on solid scientific evidence for the safety of drugs."

Two authors reported financial relationships with various pharmaceutical companies.

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