Friday, 6 December 2013

Quetiapine versus other atypical antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia

Quetiapine is a second‐generation antipsychotic. Second‐generation or atypical antipsychotic drugs have become the mainstay of treatment in many countries for people with schizophrenia. They are called second‐generation drugs because they are newer than the older drugs, known as typical antipsychotics. Second‐generation drugs are thought to be better than the older drugs in reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hearing voices and seeing things, and are suggested to produce fewer side effects, such as sleepiness, weight gain, tremors and shaking. However, it is not clear how the various second‐ generation antipsychotic drugs differ from one other. The aim of this review therefore was to evaluate the effects of quetiapine compared with other second‐generation antipsychotic drugs for people with schizophrenia. The review included a total of 35 studies with 5971 people, which provided information on six comparisons (quetiapine vs the following: clozapine, olanzapine, risperidone, ziprasidone, paliperidone and aripiprazole). Comparisons with amisulpride, sertindole and zotepine do not exist, so more research is needed. A major limitation of all findings was the large number of people leaving studies and stopping quetiapine treatment (50.2% of people). The most important finding to note is that if a group is started on quetiapine, most will be off this drug within a few weeks (although the reasons for stopping quetiapine treatment are not covered by the review and so remain uncertain). Quetiapine may be slightly less effective than risperidone and olanzapine in reducing symptoms, and it may cause less weight gain and fewer side effects and associated problems (such as heart problems and diabetes) than olanzapine and paliperidone, but more than are seen with risperidone and ziprasidone. The limited information tends to suggest that people taking quetiapine may need to be hospitalised more frequently than those taking risperidone or olanzapine. This may lead to higher costs in some settings, but the information is not robust enough to guide managers.

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