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An older type of antipsychotic medicine used to treat children with schizophrenia could be safer than the commonly prescribed newer versions, according to a study.
The Treatment of Early-Onset Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders Study from the University of North Carolina (UNC) in the US found that though second-generation, or “atypical”, drugs such as olanzapine and risperidone are prescribed as standard, there is little evidence that these drugs are more effective than the older, first-generation medications.
Researchers are now suggesting that molindone – a first-generation drug – is as effective as the newer ones and should be used as therapy in some children with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.
Dr Lin Sikich, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at UNC and lead author, said: “People thought the second-generation drugs were superior because they had no side effects. We found that molindone works as well as newer drugs, and in some cases it’s safer.
“The guidelines are going to have to be rewritten because of this study.”
The study – the findings of which are published in the American Journal of Psychiatry – compared patients receiving molindone, olanzapine or risperidone over an eight-week period.
It found a decline in symptoms was similar across the three medications. But the drugs caused very different types of side effects. Both olanzapine and risperidone were associated with significant weight gain and could put young patients at risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
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