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Findings About Newer Schizophrenia Drugs Surprise Researchers

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Researchers say newer drugs used to treat the brain disorder schizophrenia are no better than those that have been used for many years. Schizophrenia can cause people to hear and see things that are not real. It can cause people to believe others want to harm them. It can cause fearfulness, withdrawal and extreme nervousness.

The results of the British study surprised the researchers. They re-examined their work for possible recording mistakes.

The National Health Service in Britain paid for the study. The findings were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The British health officials wanted to learn if drugs developed in the nineteen nineties to treat schizophrenia were worth their higher cost. The newer drugs can cost ten times as much as those developed in the nineteen fifties. The newer drugs are thought to reduce unwanted side effects. Older drugs have been criticized for sometimes causing uncontrollable muscle movements among other side effects.

Peter Jones of the University of Cambridge in England led the study. It involved two hundred twenty-seven schizophrenia patients from eighteen to sixty-five years old. They were divided into two groups. Members of one group were treated with modern drugs. The others were given older drugs. The patients were not told which drugs they were given.

Experts examined the patients before the testing began and three times during one year. The experts did not know which drug the patients were receiving. The experts rated the quality of life for each patient. The researchers said they expected patients taking the newer drugs to have scores five points higher than the others. But, they found that the group given the older drugs had higher quality of life scores, although the difference was very small.

The researchers say more testing must be done. A company that makes one of the newer drugs questioned the findings.

In the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health recently announced a new study about giving antipsychotic drugs to people with schizophrenia. The study will compare the traditional method of daily pills with injections of long-lasting drugs every two weeks.

And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. You can download transcripts and archives of our reports at I’m Barbara Klein.