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CMAJ. 2005 Jun 21;172(13):1703-11.

Modern antipsychotic drugs: a critical overview.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.


Conventional antipsychotic drugs, used for a half century to treat a range of major psychiatric disorders, are being replaced in clinical practice by modern "atypical" antipsychotics, including aripiprazole, clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone and ziprasidone among others. As a class, the newer drugs have been promoted as being broadly clinically superior, but the evidence for this is problematic. In this brief critical overview, we consider the pharmacology, therapeutic effectiveness, tolerability, adverse effects and costs of individual modern agents versus older antipsychotic drugs. Because of typically minor differences between agents in clinical effectiveness and tolerability, and because of growing concerns about potential adverse long-term health consequences of some modern agents, it is reasonable to consider both older and newer drugs for clinical use, and it is important to inform patients of relative benefits, risks and costs of specific choices.

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