Mental Health: Superiority of New Schizophrenia Drug Gets Challenged

Although new research suggests that a state-of-the-art drug, Olanzapine, does appear to be less likely than haloperidol to cause serious motor symptoms, called tardive dyskinesia, which are linked to long-term use of antipsychotics, unfortunately it doesn’t earn significant favor when compared with an older and much cheaper medication.

Earlier research had found that the newer drug, Olanzapine, was worth its almost $8 a day more per patient than the most frequently prescribed medication, haloperidol, because Olanzapine reduces symptoms and prevents psychotic relapses better. And experts have argued that while Olanzapine and its ilk cost more than older drugs, they save money over time by reducing hospitalizations and other health care expenses.

However, the latest study found each patient treated at Veterans Administration hospitals with Olanzapine cost that system between $3,000 and $9,000 more each year, on average, than patients on haloperidol. But the researchers didn’t see a significant improvement in symptoms or quality of life for the added expense.

So, should doctors avoid the new and stick to the old? Perhaps not just yet.

“The reason I’m not prepared to