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, 57 (3), 238-55

Atypical Antipsychotic Agents: A Critical Review


Atypical Antipsychotic Agents: A Critical Review

J A Worrel et al. Am J Health Syst Pharm.


The pharmacology, efficacy, and adverse effects of atypical antipsychotic agents when used to treat schizophrenia and other disorders are reviewed. Atypical antipsychotic agents were developed in response to problems with typical agents, including lack of efficacy in some patients, lack of improvement in negative symptoms, and troublesome adverse effects, especially extrapyramidal symptoms (EPSs) and tardive dyskinesia CTD). Atypical antipsychotics differ from typical psychotics in their "limbic-specific" dopamine type 2 (D2)-receptor binding and high ratio of serotonin type 2 (5-HT2)-receptor binding to D2 binding. In clinical trials in patients with non-treatment-resistant schizophrenia, risperidone and olanzapine were superior to placebo for positive and negative symptoms. Risperidone and olanzapine were superior to haloperidol on some measures. Quetiapine was better than placebo but was not better than typical antipsychotics. Head-to-head comparisons of atypical antipsychotics in non-treatment-resistant schizophrenia have been inconclusive. Clozapine remains the standard agent for treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Atypical agents are substantially more expensive than their typical antipsychotic counterparts. To fully determine the overall efficiency of these drugs, other potential benefits, such as improved quality of life, need to be factored in. Atypical antipsychotics are associated with a decreased capacity to cause EPSs, TD, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and hyperprolactinemia. Clozapine carries a risk of agranulocytosis; the white blood cell count must be monitored. Atypical antipsychotics are increasingly being used for indications other than schizophrenia, such as the management of aggression, mania, and depression. Atypical antipsychotics are often considered first-line agents for treating schizophrenia and are promising treatment alternatives for other psychiatric and neurologic conditions.

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