Patients taking a newer group of atypical antipsychotics are twice as likely to suffer sudden cardiac failure and death as nonusers.
That is the latest finding published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The conventional wisdom was that the newer antipsychotics were safer than the older ones, which brought on sometimes irreversible tremors and ticks, and cardiac complications.
Atypicals include AstraZeneca’s Seroquel, Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa, Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal and Novartis’s Clozaril.
Antipsychotics are increasingly used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD in kids, and even aggressive behavior in Alzheimer’s patients.
CNN reports the newer medications, olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine are among the 10 top selling drugs worldwide with $14.5 billion in sales in 2007. The Wall Street Journal reports that typical drugs also include haloperidol and thioridazine.
In their study, researchers from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine reviewed data on Tennessee Medicaid patients, half were taking typical antipsychotics and the other half, the newer atypical antipsychotics.
The group, totaling about 90,000, was compared to more than 186,000 who had never used either type of drug.
The risk of sudden cardiac death of 1.99 times greater in those taking typical antipsychotics and 2.26 times greater among those on atypical antipsychotics.
"[The drugs] have potentially very serious side effects," says Wayne A. Ray, Ph.D., the director of the division of pharmacoepidemiology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in Nashville tells CNN. "So whenever a decision is made to use one, consideration of potential side effects needs to be made."
The results echo another study published recently in Lancet Neurology, that suggest long-term use of antipsychotic drugs in patients with Alzheimer’s disease nearly doubles their rate of death after one year.
“Key opinion leaders,” academics and researchers who have encouraged the nationwide use of antipsychotics include Emory University’s Charles Nemeroff, and Harvard’s Dr. Joseph Biederman, both the focus of a congressional inquiry into conflict of interest with the drug companies whose products they are testing. #