Do antipsychotic drugs lose their efficacy for relapse prevention over time?†

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There is a debate about long-term treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic drugs, with some experts suggesting that these drugs should be discontinued. In this issue, Takeuchi et al demonstrated by a meta-analysis of 11 trials that antipsychotic drugs maintained their efficacy for relapse prevention for 1 year, whereas patients on placebo kept getting worse. We consider these findings in the light of the current discussion about possible dose-related brain volume loss, supersensitivity psychosis, the high variability of results in long-term follow-up studies and recent approaches to discontinue antipsychotics in patients with a first-episode. The new findings speak in favour of continuing antipsychotics at the same dose, at least in patients whose condition is chronic, but the topic is complex.

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