Antipsychotic Drugs are Killing patients_Brit J Psychiatry

The Finnish study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found even when adjusted for age and gender, the relative risk of natural death between people with schizophrenia and others was 2.80 (95% CI 2.00–3.93).

"The risk of mortality was increased among people with schizophrenia even after controlling for potential risk factors for premature death (low level of education, smoking, alcohol intake, exercise, body mass index, systolic and diastolic pressure, and total and HDL cholesterol) and coexistent somatic diseases."

The sample size was 8,000: the number of people with schizophrenia was 99–of whom 39 died in the course of the 17 year study.
"Of the 99 people with schizophrenia, 20 were taking no neuroleptic drug at baseline, 31 one drug, 34 two drugs and 14 three or more drugs. The most commonly used neuroleptic was thioridazine (34%), followed by perphenazine (20%), chlorpromazine (19%), levomepromazine (14%), chlorprothixene (13%) and haloperidol (12%); use of other neuroleptics was less than 10%.

Among participants with schizophrenia, there was a strong inverse relationship between serum HDL cholesterol
and the number of neuroleptic drugs p prescribed (correlation coefficient¼70.41, P50.001) that remained statistically significant after adjustment for age, gender, all lifestyle-related factors and coexistent somatic diseases."

There were only four "unnatural deaths" (suicides ?) among those with schizophrenia.
Of the 31 on one neuroleptic drug, 11 (35%) died; of the 34 on two drugs, 15 (44%) died; of the 14 on three or more neuroleptics, 8 (57%) died, compared to 5 (20%) who did not take a neuroleptic. The authors conclusion: "the association with neuroleptic drugs was very clear."

They cited numerous studies with similar findings:  a 10-year UK follow-up study [2]; two French studies [3] [4];  two studies that tracked patients on the new atypical antipsychotics:one in the U.S. [5], another in Sweden [6]; two studies showing "large relative absolute increases in sudden cardiac deaths. [7] [8]

Invited commentary by Dr. David Healy is disappointing in that he appears torn between loyalty to patients and scientific integrity, and loyalty to his professional colleagues who have so badly betrayed their patients by prescribing toxic neurologically damaging drugs that increase cardiovscular disease, cerebrovascular disease and respiratory disease. Neuroleptics (antipsychotics) are drugs that shorten life.

Unlike Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America and The Anatomy of an Epidemic (who is not a psychiatrist) Dr. Healy avoids rendering a judgement on psychiatry’s dangerous obsession with drugs–which he tells us, Dr. Ross Baldessarini describes as "the allopathic compulsion."  He averts his gaze from the mounting human casualties seeking comfort from  Dr. Heinz Lehmann who introduced neuroleptics to the U.S. and Canada  whose enthusiasm encapsulates what was and what still is wrong with psychiatry’s obsession with the pill: Heinz  transferred his and clinicians’ enthusiasm with the pill onto patients: "I suppose if people had been told well they’ll die 2 years later they’d still have said it’s worth it. It was so unthinkable and so new and so wonderful’"

Although Dr. Healy recognizes the folly "But yesterday’s enthusiasms commonly pall in the face of today’s hazards"–he rationalizes lethal clinical practice:
 "Understandably, though, in the face of non-response or minimal responses, right from the start some clinicians increased the dose of individual neuroleptics a hundred-fold beyond what is now recognised as optimal, or added further neuroleptics to treatment cocktails when a particular neuroleptic had failed… Sometimes these dose escalations or additional treatments have been given on the back of an apparently worsening clinical state that may in fact have been made somewhat worse by the treatment being administered."

Schizophrenia, neuroleptic medication and mortality, BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY (2006), 188, 122^127
2. Waddington, JL,Youssef,H. A. & Kinsella, A. (1998) Mortality in schizophrenia. Antipsychotic polypharmacy and absence of adjunctive anticholinergics over the course of a 10-year prospective study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 325^329.
3. Bralet,M.C.,Yon,V., Loas,G., et al (2000) Causes de la mortalite¤ chez les schizophre’ nes: e¤ tude prospective sur 8 ans d’une cohorte de 150 schizophre’ nes chroniques. Ence¤ phale, 26, 32^41
4. Montout, C., Casadebaig, F., Lagnaoui, R., et al (2002) Neuroleptics and mortality in schizophrenia: prospective analysis of deaths in a French cohort of schizophrenic patients. Schizophrenia Research, 57, 147-156.
 5. Wirshing, D. A., Pierre, J.M., Erhart, S.M., et al (2003) Understanding the new and evolving profile of adverse drug effects in schizophrenia. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 26,165-190.
6. Osby,U.,Correia,N., Brandt, L., et al (2000) Mortality and causes of death in schizophrenia in Stockholmcounty, Sweden. Schizophrenia Research, 45, 21^28.
7. Ray,W. A. & Meador, K.G. (2002) Antipsychotics and sudden death: is thioridazine the only bad actor? British Journal of Psychiatry, 180, 483^484.  
8. Ray,W. A.,Meredith, S.,Thapa, P. B., et al (2001)  Antipsychotics and the risk of sudden cardiac death. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58,1

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav