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Medical News & Perspectives
April 18, 2012

Studies May Not Provide Clear View of Antipsychotics

JAMA. 2012;307(15):1572. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.499

According to a recent analysis, the literature on atypical antipsychotic medications doesn't significantly inflate their overall effectiveness for the treatment of schizophrenia. Still, some negative studies and conclusions regarding the drugs' safety and efficacy have not been published, leaving clinicians with an incomplete picture of the drugs in this class.

There is evidence that clinical trial sponsors and researchers may avoid submitting for publication studies that have negative findings. Less commonly, some journals may hesitate to publish trials with negative results. Such bias can skew the evidence base so that an intervention appears more effective than it is. To assess whether such bias exists in the evidence base supporting antipsychotic medications, Erick H. Turner, MD, of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and his colleagues looked at studies examining atypical antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The researchers compared the published studies with those that had been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to gain approval to market the drugs for these indications (Turner EH et al. PLoS Med. 2012;9[3]:e1001189).