Sunday, December 18, 2005

Neuroleptic studies "A Huge Trick"

Spinning the Doctors by Rob Waters in the May/June issue of Mother Jones.
The studies these claims were based on were conducted with mentally ill patients who were, to start with, on old generation antipsychotics, usually Haldol. To begin the study, all the patients were abruptly taken off their meds. The placebo group went through Haldol withdrawal, a process known to trigger side effects. The others got Risperdal.

"It’s a huge trick," claims David Cohen, a professor of social work at Miami’s Florida International University, who has written widely on psychiatric medication. "In the group yanked off Haldol and left with nothing, the extrapyramidal symptoms worsen. Of course they do. They’ve just been yanked off Haldol and their brains are going haywire!"

In fact, many patients on Risperdal in Janssen-sponsored studies did experience EPS—just not at a greater rate than those withdrawn from Haldol.

Doug Arbesfeld, a spokesman for Janssen Pharmaceutica, said there was nothing misleading about the ads for Risperdal. Few schizophrenic patients available for trials are not already on medications, he noted. "Anyone who understands how these studies are constructed would understand that."

In fact, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario did test patients not previously treated with antipsychotics and found that 59 percent on Risperdal developed Parkinsonism, compared to 52 percent on Haldol.

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