How effective are second-generation antipsychotic drugs? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials

Molecular Psychiatry
Stefan LeuchtJohn M Davis

Abstract

We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compared second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) drugs with placebo in schizophrenic patients and which considered 13 different outcome measures. Thirty-eight randomized controlled trials with 7323 participants were included. All SGA drugs were more effective than placebo, but the pooled effect size (ES) for overall symptoms (primary outcome) was moderate (-0.51). The absolute difference (RD) in responder rates was at 18% (41% responded to drug compared with 24% to placebo, number needed to treat=6). Similar ESs were found for the other efficacy parameters: negative symptoms (ES=-0.39), positive symptoms (ES=-0.48), depression (ES=-0.26), relapse (RD 20%) and discontinuation due to inefficacy (RD 17%). Curiously, the efficacy of haloperidol for negative and depressive symptoms was similar to that of the SGA drugs. In contrast to haloperidol, there was no difference in terms of EPS between any SGA drugs and placebo, and there was also no difference in terms of dropouts due to adverse events. Meta-regression showed a decline in treatment response over time, and a funnel plot suggested the possibility of publication bias. We conclude that the dru...Continue Reading

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