A Meta-analysis of the Efficacy
of Second-Generation Antipsychotics

John M. Davis, MD; Nancy Chen, MS; Ira D. Glick, MD Background: Consensus panel recommendations re-
tracted the sample sizes, means, and standard deviation garding choice of an antipsychotic agent for schizophre- nia differ markedly, but most consider second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) as a homogeneous Results: Using the Hedges-Olkin algorithm, the effect sizes
group. It has been suggested that SGAs seem falsely more of clozapine, amisulpride, risperidone, and olanzapine were efficacious than first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) 0.49, 0.29, 0.25, and 0.21 greater than those of FGAs, with as a result of reduced efficacy due to use of a high-dose P values of 2ϫ10−8, 3ϫ10−7, 2ϫ10−12, and 3ϫ10−9, re- comparator, haloperidol. We performed (1) a meta- spectively. The remaining 6 SGAs were not significantly analysis of randomized efficacy trials comparing SGAs different from FGAs, although zotepine was marginally dif- and FGAs, (2) comparisons between SGAs, (3) a dose- ferent. No efficacy difference was detected among amisul- response analysis of FGAs and SGAs, and (4) an analy- pride, risperidone, and olanzapine. We found no evi- sis of the effect on efficacy of an overly high dose of an dence that the haloperidol dose (or all FGA comparators converted to haloperidol-equivalent doses) affected theseresults when we examined its effect by drug or in a 2-way Methods: Literature search of clinical trials between
analysis of variance model in which SGA effectiveness is January 1953 and May 2002 of patients with schizophre- nia from electronic databases, reference lists, posters, theFood and Drug Administration, and other unpublished Conclusion: Some SGAs are more efficacious than FGAs,
data. We included 124 randomized controlled trials with and, therefore, SGAs are not a homogeneous group.
efficacy data on 10 SGAs vs FGAs and 18 studies of com-parisons between SGAs. Two of us independently ex- Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60:553-564 ONEOFTHEmostimpor- Ourprimaryaimwastoperforma
meta-analysis of randomized trials on the efficacy of second-generation antipsychot- 18 studies of SGAs [2748 patients]), about cluded1(p1371): “There is no clear evidence 4 times the number of studies included in that atypical antipsychotics are more ef- previous meta-analyses. To carry out the pri- fective or are better tolerated than con- mary analysis correctly, it was necessary to ventional antipsychotics.” Other research- ers2-4 share their view. In contrast, some timal doses in their estimates,14,15 and to per- form a meta-analysis of 24 comparisons of to receive a medium dose vs a high dose.
Geddes et al1 assert that overly high doses of a comparator are less efficacious than me- dium doses, and, therefore, the observed bet- ter efficacy of some SGAs might be an arti- fact of a negative effect on efficacy of the conducted meta-regressions to explore the tute of Mental Health,11 and others12,13 have effect of comparator dose on our data, on (Dr Glick). This study receivedno direct or indirect support data from the 30 studies reviewed by Ged- mending all antipsychotics and leaving the des et al1 (our analysis of the raw data of clinician without an effective guide.
Geddes et al), and on the comparable pooled (REPRINTED) ARCH GEN PSYCHIATRY/ VOL 60, JUNE 2003 2003 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Effect sizes were calculated from the Positive and Negative Syn- drome Scale (PANSS)23 or, when that was not available, from the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS).24 When neither the PANSS nor the BPRS was available, the Clinical Global Rating was used, using change scores adjusted for baseline (analysis of covari- ance) or, when not available, change scores (baseline minus end point score) and, when both were unavailable, end point scores.
Effect size is essentially the improvement score of SGA minus FGA divided by their pooled standard deviation. Normal quantile plots were generated to ensure that the outcome variable was reason- ably normally distributed (Web, Figure 11).
We based our meta-analysis, as far as possible, on the intent- Figure 1. Olanzapine dose-response curve. The 3 dotted lines extending past
to-treat sample using the last-observation-carried-forward the 16.3-mg dose indicate that there is uncertainty regarding when the curve method. The mean, sample size, and standard deviation data flattens. A indicates the dose greater than 60% of the optimal dose; B and C,approximations of the optimal dose range; D, an unnecessarily high dose; of all studies were extracted by one of us (J.M.D.); one of us BPRS, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale.
(I.D.G. or N.C.) performed independent data extractions.
Cochrane dataset of 33 trials (6464 patients) of SGA vs FGA VALIDITY ASSESSMENT
We conducted extensive sensitivity analyses to determine Additional methods, search strategies, tables, fig- whether results were altered by excluding certain studies or by ures, discussions, citations, and sensitivity analyses can be meta-regression. We explored the effects of study design, re- accessed on our Web site (herein referred to as “Web”) (http: port completeness (qualitatively), peer-reviewed publication vs // (Uni- non–peer-reviewed publication (including data from posters versity of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Psychiatry, and the FDA Web site), quality of study, global rating vs 2003) or by requesting a copy from the authors. We plan PANSS/BPRS continuous scales, and exclusion of certain drugs to update our meta-analysis on the Web quarterly.
(Web, “Sensitivity Analysis”). To evaluate data extraction, wecompared our effect sizes with those we calculated from thesample size, mean, and standard deviation from the Cochrane reviews15-19 and Geddes et al1 effect sizes.
We selected random-assignment, controlled clinical trials of pa-tients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder with no re- Five Hedges-Olkin–based25 software programs were used: Coch- striction on publication date, language, or sample size of 10 SGAs rane MetaView (version 4.1.1),26 2 SAS-based programs (ver- (amisulpride, aripiprazole, clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine fu- sion 8.2),27,28 MetaWin (version 2.0),29 Comprehensive Meta- marate, remoxipride hydrochloride, risperidone, sertindole, zipra- Analysis (version 1.0.25; Biostat, Englewood, NJ), and a DOS sidone hydrochloride, and zotepine) compared with either FGAs program to establish consistency across different meta-analytic or another SGA, and a dose-response comparison of FGAs and techniques. We used fixed-effects models except when signifi- SGAs. Previous research20 has established that all FGAs are equally cant heterogeneity dictated the use of random-effects models. (Sig- efficacious. We analyzed the medical literature in its original lan- nificant heterogeneity implies that effect sizes between the stud- guage. We performed a sensitivity analysis and generated fun- ies differ more than expected by chance.) Because our conclusions nel plots to assess the possibility of publication bias.
differed from those of Geddes et al,1 we evaluated whether thiswas due to meta-analytic methods or interpretation (effect of com- SEARCH STRATEGY
parator dose). Consequently, to hold dose constant, we con-structed dose-response curves from fixed-dose, random- Modeled after the search strategy of Cochrane reviews, we assignment, double-blind studies of SGAs (and FGAs using searched the following databases: MEDLINE (January 1, 1966, haloperidol equivalents) to identify the therapeutic dose range to May 31, 2002), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (Janu- by inspection (Figure 1, point B).30-33 In the randomized, mul-
ary 1, 1970, to March 31, 2002), CINAHL (January 1, 1982, to tiple fixed-dose studies, we pooled all doses greater than approxi- April 30, 2002), PsychINFO (January 1, 1987, to January 31, mately 60% of the therapeutic dose, that is, medium olanzapine 2002). We also searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic doses of approximately 11 mg or greater (Figure 1, point A), ris- Reviews (Issue 2, 2002) and reference lists in journal articles.
peridone doses of 4 mg or greater, quetiapine doses of 150 mg The Quality of Reporting of Meta-Analyses statement21 and the (the most efficacious dose) or greater, and sertindole doses of 12 empiric study by McAuley and coworkers22 indicate that ex- mg or greater. Risperidone at 2 mg was about 50% less effective clusion of unpublished studies produces a systematic positive than the pooled 6- to 16-mg dose and 60% less than the 6-mg bias, so we included data from the US Food and Drug Admin- dose.34-36 Low olanzapine doses (about 6 mg) constituted ap- istration (FDA) Web site, data obtained through the Freedom proximately 33% of the optimal dose (Figure 1; Web, “Dose- of Information Act, poster presentations, and unpublished data response Analyses and the Pooling of Doses in Fixed-Dose from Cochrane reviews or other meta-analyses, conference ab- Studies”). Similarly, the meta-analysis by Geddes et al1 includes stracts, and manuscripts submitted for publication. We que- data from the therapeutic dose (the dose used in practice) only, ried investigators to locate additional studies, and we con- and our dose determination corresponded exactly to theirs. Ged- tacted manufacturers to obtain company monographs.
des et al1 argued that higher comparator doses produce less effi- (REPRINTED) ARCH GEN PSYCHIATRY/ VOL 60, JUNE 2003 2003 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Table 1. Two-Factor Analysis of Variance: Drug (3 Groups) ؋ Haloperidol Dose (2 Groups) on Efficacy of SGAs vs FGAs*
Heterogeneity Test
P Value
P Value
Direct effect of haloperidol dose on efficacy Does haloperidol dose differentially affect efficacy Direct effect of haloperidol dose on efficacy Does haloperidol dose differentially affect efficacy Direct effect of haloperidol dose on efficacy Does haloperidol dose differentially affect efficacy Present study (includes nonhaloperidol FGAs) Direct effect of haloperidol-equivalent dose on efficacy Does haloperidol-equivalent dose differentially affect efficacy in different drugs (interaction)? Abbreviations: F, fixed-effects model; FGA, first-generation antipsychotic; R, random-effects model; SGA, second-generation antipsychotic.
*Effect of 3 efficacy groups (1, clozapine; 2, amisulpride, olanzapine, and risperidone; and 3, aripiprazole, quetiapine, remoxipride, sertindole, ziprasidone, and zotepine) and haloperidol comparator dose (Յ12 vs Ͼ12 mg) on differential efficacy. This analysis tests simultaneously drug group and dose of comparator in thesame model. The third line of each triplet indicates whether the dose of haloperidol comparator affects the efficacy of the 3 drug groups. There is no effect ofhaloperidol comparator in all 3 datasets when drug group is included in the model. Analysis of the dose of all FGA comparators converted tohaloperidol-equivalent doses also failed to show that high or low dose affected differential efficacy.
cacy, and consequently we tested this with a meta-analysis of ahigh dose vs medium dose of randomized, double-blind, fixed-dose FGA studies (Figure 1, points C and B, respectively). If true,the higher dose should be less efficacious. We also analyzed ran-domized, double-blind clozapine dose-response and plasma level The haloperidol dose, chlorpromazine hydrochloride dose, and other comparator doses (converted to haloperidol equiva-lents)37 were investigated as continuous and dichotomous vari- ables (based on the haloperidol cutoff point of Յ12 vs Ͼ12 mg/dof Geddes et al1) by using MetaWin and Comprehensive Meta-Analysis across all drugs and then for each drug individually(Web, Table 6 and Table 7). Second, meta-analysis based on a 2-factor analysis of variance was conducted to analyze the effectof the dichotomized haloperidol (or all drug) dose for 3 drug groups (Table 1) using the method of Wang and Bushman.28
Figure 2. Effect size in each study (solid circles) for 10 drugs, with better
second-generation antipsychotic efficacy indicated by positive effect sizes.
The mean effect size of each drug is indicated by a short horizontal bar.
The effect sizes (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) from our 0.60 (95% CI, 0.44-0.76) (corresponding to 12.6 PANSS meta-analysis of clozapine,38-66 amisulpride,67-76 risperi- points or 7.8 BPRS points; Web, Figure 4).30,35,81,107-111 Thus, done,17,35,66,77-96 and olanzapine15,66,91,92,97-106 were 0.49 (0.32- the effects of amisulpride, risperidone, and olanzapine vs 0.67), 0.29 (0.16-0.41), 0.25 (0.18-0.33), and 0.21 (0.14- FGAs are somewhat less than half the effect size of FGAs 0.28), respectively, and each was highly statistically over placebo or clozapine over FGAs. The large risperi- significant—the best evidence of difference (P=10−7−10−12) done and olanzapine studies found consistent differences (Figure 2, Table 2, and Web, Tables 1-3). Clozapine pro-
vs FGAs. The outliers were small exploratory studies. Ex- duced a better response than FGAs with effect size d=0.49, amination of funnel plots for publication bias showed no whereas amisulpride, risperidone, and olanzapine clus- gross asymmetry, except for those of clozapine and ris- tered around 0.25 effect size units (corresponding to 4-6 peridone, which indicate that smaller studies reported bet- PANSS points or 3-4 BPRS points). For perspective, based ter efficacy (greater effect sizes) for SGAs (Web, Figure 10).
on 7 studies performed contemporaneously with recently Sensitivity analyses omitting open-label randomized or non– released SGAs, the mean haloperidol–placebo effect size was peer-reviewed studies, including studies with low-dose con- (REPRINTED) ARCH GEN PSYCHIATRY/ VOL 60, JUNE 2003 2003 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Table 2. Effect Sizes of 10 Second-Generation Antipsychotics Compared With First-Generation Antipsychotics
Present Study
Cochrane Reviews15-19
Geddes et al1
Studies, No.
Studies, No.
Studies, No.
Abbreviations: CI, confidence interval; F, fixed-effects model; NA, not applicable; R, random-effects model.
ditions, and meta-regression with study quality, or (Web, “Dose-response Analyses and the Pooling of Doses PANSS/BPRS vs global rating, study duration, use of global in Fixed-Dose Studies”). Neither the analysis by Bollini et vs continuous measures, etc, as moderator variables showed al153 nor our analysis of the average efficacy between the essentially identical results (Web, “Sensitivity Analysis”).
high/very high dose FGA and the medium/high doses was We rejected the assertion of Geddes et al1 that the SGAs statistically significant. Indeed, the trend was opposite to were equally efficacious as a homogeneous group because the amount of variance attributable to the different SGAs One clozapine dose-response study154 found that 600 was large (Q9=58.8; P=10−8 random-effects model). Arip- mg/d was somewhat superior to 300 mg/d, which in turn iprazole,112-114 quetiapine,108,115-118 remoxipride,119-135 sertin- was superior to 100 mg/d in a small sample study, and some dole,109-111,136-138 and ziprasidone107,139-142 show similar effi- patients clinically needed 900 mg/d. Plasma level studies cacy to FGAs in the sense that the improvement scores of 400 mg of clozapine (and one with a high clozapine dose) produced by these SGAs were not statistically signifi- 155-157 showed that patients with higher clozapine plasma cantly better than those of FGAs (Table 2). Failure to find levels had an excellent response, whereas those with lower a statistically significant difference does not prove that these clozapine plasma levels had a poor response, suggesting drugs are equal to FGAs because there is a possibility that that many patients require doses greater than 400 mg. When further studies could demonstrate this. We place substan- the dose of the poor responders was increased, most pa- tial weight on the ziprasidone data from the FDA.107 Be- tients’ responses increased. The doses of clozapine used in cause data for 3 of 4 ziprasidone studies (1341 patients) risperidone or olanzapine comparisons were generally 400 and all 3 aripiprazole studies (560 patients) were poster data, although sufficient data exist to warrant inclusion, defini-tive judgment regarding differential efficacy must await pub- COMPARISONS OF SGAs
lication of poster or FDA data. The 12 studies comparingzotepine with FGAs showed no clear evidence of superi- Meta-analyses of olanzapine vs clozapine66,158,159 and ris- ority. There is some variability between studies (with most peridone vs clozapine66,160-163,165,166 showed no signifi- studies clustering at an efficacy similar to that of FGA, with cant differences (Table 3). Meta-regression of risperi-
2 outliers); thus, conclusions are limited.143-152 Zotepine’s done vs clozapine showed that clozapine dose was a effect size of 0.15 computed using MetaWin (95% CI, −0.01 statistically significant moderator variable (P = .007).
to 0.30) and MetaView (95% CI, −0.02 to 0.45) just missed Clozapine tended to be more efficacious than risperi- significance, whereas the effect size computed using Com- done in studies that used a higher dose of clozapine (Web, prehensive Meta-Analysis was significant (95% CI, 0.01 to Figure 1). Our clozapine dose-response study and plasma 0.28; P=.03; Web, Tables 1-3). Most of the studies were level studies suggest that overly low clozapine doses were short-term studies, but data were available on a few long- used in most comparisons of SGAs. Consequently, our term studies (n=16), suggesting that long-term studies pro- meta-analysis does not exclude the possibility that ad- duce the same differential efficacy (Web, “Reviews of Ami- equate doses of clozapine could be superior to other SGAs.
sulpride, Risperidone, and Zotepine”).
Six olanzapine vs risperidone studies92,167-171 yielded a nonsignificant effect size (effect size d = 0.10; 95% CI, DOSE-RESPONSE STUDIES
−0.06 to 0.26) (Table 3). Two studies172,173 showed ami-sulpride to be similar to risperidone (effect size d = −0.10; We examined double-blind trials with patients randomly 95% CI, −1.27 to 1.07), and single studies of clozapine vs assigned to medium/high or very high doses of FGAs in a zotepine,174 olanzapine vs amisulpride,175 olanzapine vs reanalysis of the data of Bollini et al153 and also of 24 trials ziprasidone,176 remoxipride vs clozapine,125 and risperi- (REPRINTED) ARCH GEN PSYCHIATRY/ VOL 60, JUNE 2003 2003 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Table 3. Comparisons Between Second-Generation Antipsychotics Using MetaWin
Studies, No.
Patients, No.
Effect Size
P Value
Abbreviation: CI, confidence interval.
Table 4. Summary Table
Our Statistical Method on
Data and Analysis
Cochrane Reviews15-19
Data of Geddes et al1
Present Data
Table or Figure
risperidone are more efficacious than FGAs Other SGAs are equally as efficacious as FGAs Does haloperidol dose affect efficacy differently Abbreviations: ANOVA, analysis of variance; FGA, first-generation antipsychotic; SGA, second-generation antipsychotic.
*Additional tables and figures can be accessed on our Web site (referred to as “Web” herein): University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Psychiatry, 2003.
†Zotepine was significantly more efficacious than FGAs in the pooled Cochrane data (P = .003).
‡Although Geddes et al assert that higher doses of haloperidol produce less efficacy, their finding on the dichotomized haloperidol dose (Յ12 vs Ͼ12 mg) seems not to be statistically significant in their Figure 1 as there is considerable overlap between the 2 effect sizes. Our recalculation of the Geddes et al data agreeclosely with data presented in their Figure 1, but the high- and the low-dose haloperidol groups were not significantly different from each other.
§The differential effect of FGA dose (including nonhaloperidol FGAs using haloperidol-equivalent doses) and SGA group on efficacy was also examined, and no significant interaction effect was observed. There were few studies with chlorpromazine as a comparator; the effect of chlorpromazine dose could not be analyzedbecause, for many drugs, only low-dose chlorpromazine was used.
done vs aripiprazole177 did not display significant differ- and that of Geddes et al1 using 5 different software pro- grams (Web, Tables 1-5). Differences in conclusions arenot a result of different statistical methods of data syn- COMPARISONS BETWEEN META-ANALYSES
thesis per se, as our results were virtually identical. Ged-des et al1 found that the same 4 SGAs (amisulpride, cloza- Reliability of Data Extraction
pine, olanzapine, and risperidone) were more efficaciousthan FGAs. Our P values and CIs are smaller owing to a The correlations between the effect sizes of the Coch- rane reviews15-19 and that of Geddes et al1 (r = 0.95) andbetween each of these and our effect sizes (r = 0.92 and Interpretation by Geddes and Colleagues
0.93, respectively) show a high level of agreement in dataextraction (Web, “Reliability of Data Extraction”).
Geddes et al1 arrived at the opposite conclusion by meta-regression; they suggested that this efficacy difference was Consistency of Data Synthesis
caused by an overly high dose of the comparator haloperi-dol, which reduced its efficacy. Using their data, we rep- We performed meta-analyses using data from the Coch- licated the results of Geddes et al1 using our meta-analysis rane reviews15-19 and Geddes et al1 (our data synthesis of programs (Table 4). Our results show a small effect of
their effect size data). Table 2 gives the results of our meta- comparator (P=.02), but the test for heterogeneity was analysis of all 3 datasets. Our calculation of the overall highly significant (PϽ.001) (Table 5). Our meta-
effect sizes was similar to those of the Cochrane reviews regression of the discontinuous haloperidol dose did not (REPRINTED) ARCH GEN PSYCHIATRY/ VOL 60, JUNE 2003 2003 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
verted to haloperidol-equivalent doses (Web, Table 9).
Table 5. Effect of Comparator Dose on
All P values were nonsignificant (PϾ.05). If the identity Efficacy of SGAs vs FGAs
of the drug is held constant, effect of comparator dosedisappears, a finding consistent with our interpretation.
Heterogeneity Test
Effect of Dose
The overall effect of continuous dose of haloperidol com- Source and
parator was not significant using Cochrane data (coeffi- df
cient for dose effect = 0.005; P = .65) or our data (coeffi- cient for dose effect = 0.003; P = .59). The effect of the dichotomous haloperidol dose also did not significantly affect efficacy (Figure 3 and Figure 4): present study—
Q1=2.5; P=.11, Cochrane—Q1=0.63; P=.43, Geddes et 1 = 2.3; P = .13 (Q evaluated the significance of the categorical dose of comparator). We believe that the find- ing of Geddes et al1 may be an artifact stemming from the fact that the more effective SGAs used higher doses of haloperidol comparator and the less effective SGAs used As a second test, analysis of variance models with 2 categorical factors simultaneously tested the effect of high vs low haloperidol dose for 3 groups of drugs: (1) cloza- pine; (2) amisulpride, risperidone, and olanzapine; and (3) sertindole, quetiapine, aripiprazole, zotepine, remoxi- pride, and ziprasidone. The haloperidol comparator dose did not have a significant effect on differential efficacy: our data—Q1=0.28; P=.60, Cochrane data—Q1=0.02; P=.89, Geddes et al1 data—Q1=0.06; P=.81, and all FGAs con- verted to haloperidol-equivalent doses for our data— Q1=3.4; P=.07 (Table 1). When drug group and compara- tor dose group are both included in the model, drug is significant and dose of comparator is not, even in the data from Geddes et al.1 Figure 3 depicts the effect sizes for the 3 groups of drugs by high and low haloperidol dose for data from Geddes et al1 and our data. Figure 4 shows thesame for FGAs converted to haloperidol-equivalent doses.
Abbreviations: F, fixed-effects model; FGA, first-generation antipsychotic; The effect sizes are not very different for trials using 12 R, random-effects model; SGA, second-generation antipsychotics; tot, total.
mg or less of haloperidol vs those using greater than 12 mg of haloperidol or haloperidol equivalents of all SGAs.
We replicated our finding in sensitivity analyses when we find a significant effect of haloperidol dose even with the used a different meta-regression model or when we omit- ted studies, that is, 3 single-blind studies, various drugs, 1= 2.34; P = .13; Web, Table 6).
To explain the results of Geddes et al,1 note that non–peer-reviewed studies, etc. Sensitivity analyses us- clozapine is used in treatment-resistant patients for whom ing meta-regression with outcome variable (Clinical Global a high dose of haloperidol comparator was often used.
Impressions or PANSS/BPRS) and study quality as the mod- Seven of 9 studies of their 2 most effective SGAs (cloza- erator variable also showed no difference (Web, “2-Way pine and amisulpride) used high haloperidol doses, Meta-Regression” and “Sensitivity Analysis”).
whereas only 1 of 5 studies of quetiapine and sertindole(“similarly” effective SGAs) used high haloperidol doses (Figure 3B). We believe that the superiority of cloza-
pine and some of the other SGAs are an important find-
ing and that the effect of dose of comparator is an arti-fact because most studies with high comparator doses were We found a robust correlation (approximately 0.93) clozapine or amisulpride studies. This is a “Which came among the effect sizes found by Cochrane, Geddes et al,1 first, the chicken or the egg?” problem. Geddes et al1 sug- and us. The agreement on data extraction and the sta- gest that the effect of haloperidol dose explains the bet- tistical methods (for each drug separately) supports the ter effect of clozapine and some SGAs.
validity of meta-analysis and is itself an important find- In deciding between 2 alternatives, we first tested ing. It is easier to “spin” a narrative review, which can the effect of haloperidol dose on efficacy for each SGA quote select articles to support a position. The Coch- considered separately. Dose of haloperidol comparator, rane reviews are particularly thorough, with many meth- as a continuous (Table 5) or dichotomous (Web, Tables odological safeguards, including evaluation of indirect 6 and 7) variable, did not reliably affect differential effi- measures of efficacy, such as dropouts due to failure to cacy of any SGA using data from Geddes et al,1 Coch- respond. Since our present meta-analysis focuses on over- rane, or us. We also examined all FGA comparators con- all differential efficacy, it supplements but does not sub- (REPRINTED) ARCH GEN PSYCHIATRY/ VOL 60, JUNE 2003 2003 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Figure 3. Effect size in each study (positive effect sizes indicate better second-generation antipsychotic [SGA] efficacy) by categorical dose of haloperidol
comparator groups for 3 groups of SGAs for data from the present study (A) and from Geddes et al1 (B). Also examined were doses of chlorpromazine
comparators. We could not perform statistics on the data from Geddes et al1 because only 2 other studies (1 olanzapine and 1 quetiapine study) used
chlorpromazine as a comparator. Similarly, statistics were not performed with our data; although there were more studies that used chlorpromazine as a
comparator, 3 of 4 nonclozapine SGA-chlorpromazine studies used low-dose chlorpromazine.
stitute for the rigor of Cochrane reviews, such as, the clas- sic clozapine meta-analysis.178 One qualification is thatalmost all studies have been sponsored by the pharma- ceutical industry. It is possible that bias from this source (or others) could be present despite randomized double-blind methods (Web, “Potential Sources of Bias in Meta-analysis”). Consequently, trials independent of the pharmaceutical industry are needed (ie, the National In-stitute of Mental Health Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness [CATIE] project).179 EFFICACY DIFFERENCES
Some SGAs (clozapine, amisulpride, risperidone, and olan- zapine) are significantly more efficacious than FGAs, whereas others are not proven to be so. Some SGAs pro- Figure 4. The efficacy of the 3 drug groups were not differentially affected by
duce a better functional recovery than FGAs and are high- or low-haloperidol–equivalent dose (interaction effect Q2=3.9; P=.14).
cost-effective because reduction of other costs (hospi- The effect sizes of the 3 groups of second-generation antipsychotics weresignificantly different (Q talization, etc) offsets these much greater medication 2 = 58.1; PϽ10 −12), whereas effect of high or low dose was not significantly different (Q1=3.4; P=.07). Vertical bars represent costs.180-190 If efficacy differences are a “myth,” it is a myth that reduces costs. Because there are qualitative and quan-titative adverse effect and efficacy differences among SGAs,we believe that most guidelines that group SGAs as a ho- vealed that both SGAs were slightly superior to FGAs on mogeneous class are imprecise. Some researchers sug- positive symptoms but moderately superior on negative gest that the property of blocking serotonin receptors, char- symptoms, cognitive symptoms (thought disorder), mood, acteristic of most SGAs, accounts for the improved efficacy.
and impulse control/excitement, improving many symp- However, many SGAs (ziprazodone, quetiapine, sertin- toms that were untouched by FGAs. So that the disagree- dole, etc) seem to have about the same efficacy as FGAs ment is not merely semantic, those who argue that SGAs despite being potent serotonin receptor blockers, and ami- are as efficacious as FGAs on positive symptoms while sulpride, although not a serotonin receptor blocker, is more recognizing that SGAs may be more efficacious on nega- efficacious than FGAs. This questions serotonin receptor tive symptoms, cognition, or mood hold a somewhat simi- blockade as the primary cause of efficacy differences.
Our meta-analyses on the raw data of the registra- There is good evidence that negative studies are more tional studies of olanzapine and risperidone36,191 re- likely to go unpublished. One variant of failure to pub- (REPRINTED) ARCH GEN PSYCHIATRY/ VOL 60, JUNE 2003 2003 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
lish is incomplete publication where only favorable re- projects from Eli Lilly & Co, Indianapolis, Ind; Janssen Phar- sults such as a good effect on negative symptoms are pub- maceutic Products LP, Titusville, NJ; AstraZeneca Pharma- lished, but the unfavorable results on total score are ceuticals LP, Wilmington, Del; Otsuka America Phara Inc, omitted. We have made considerable efforts in obtain- Rockville, Md; and Pfizer Inc, New York, NY. ing complete data (from the Freedom of Information Act, We thank Michael E. Bennett, BS, for assistance with references and manuscript preparation. Corresponding author and reprints: John M. Davis, MD, TOLERABILITY DIFFERENCES
the Psychiatric Institute (MC 912), University of Illinois atChicago, 1601 W Taylor, Chicago, IL 60612 (e-mail: Geddes et al1(p1374) argue, “when we controlled for the higher than recommended dose of conventional antipsy-chotics . . . the differences in efficacy and overall toler- ability disappear.” We disagree because their tolerabil-ity is based on the number of total dropouts. Because theless effective drug has substantially more dropouts due 1. Geddes J, Freemantle N, Harrison P, Bebbington P. Atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia: systematic overview and meta-regression analy- to lack of efficacy, this is a different phenomenon from sis. BMJ. 2000;321:1371-1376.
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treatment recommendations. One limitation of meta- 5. Miller AL, Chiles JA, Chiles JK, Crimson ML, Rush JA, Shon SP. The Texas Medi- analysis is that it cannot balance qualitative differences cation Algorithms Project (TMAP) schizophrenia algorithms. J Clin Psychiatry.
(apples and oranges) such as between adverse effects. Cli- 6. Osser DN, Zarate CA Jr. Consultant for the pharmacotherapy of schizophrenia.
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versibility of rare but serious adverse effects (eg, agranu- 7. Pearsall R, Glick ID, Pickar D, Suppes T, Tauscher J, Jobson KO. A new algo- locytosis with clozapine and cardiac conduction rithm for treating schizophrenia. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1998;34:349-353.
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seriousness of more common adverse effects (eg, weight 9. Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia: American gain and diabetes mellitus found with olanzapine and Psychiatric Association. Am J Psychiatry. 1997;154(suppl):1-63.
clozapine, prolactin elevation with risperidone, etc) in 10. Lehman AF, Steinwachs DM. Translating research into practice: the Schizo- the context of long-term use. Rare adverse effects can- phrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT) treatment recommenda-tions. Schizophr Bull. 1998;24:1-10.
not be accurately estimated from trials with small sample 11. Dawkins K, Lieberman JA, Lebowitz BD, Hsiao JK. Antipsychotics: past and fu- sizes. A few fixed-dose studies show that some SGAs (ie, ture: National Institute of Mental Health Division of Services and Intervention risperidone and amisulpride) cause dose-related extra- Research Workshop, July 14, 1998. Schizophr Bull. 1999;25:395-405.
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13. Agence National Pour le Development de L Evaluation Medicale. Stategies Thera- Substantially fewer EPS results in better accep- peutiques a Long Terme Dans les Psychoses Schizophreniques: Text du Con- tance and long-term risk-benefit ratios and is clinically sensus. Paris, France: Agence Nationale Pour le Development de L Evaluation more important than the efficacy differences. We do not believe that it is valid to infer efficacy differences be- 14. Leucht S. Efficacy and extrapyramidal side-effects of the new antipsychotics olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, and sertindole compared to conventional tween 2 or more SGAs from effect size comparisons be- antipsychotics and placebo: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
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