In addition, persons on atypicals have been found to commit suicide 2 to five times more often than schizophrenics in general. According to Whitaker, "researchers in Ireland reported in 2003 that since the introduction of the atypical antipsychotics, the death rate among people with schizophrenia has doubled."
For instance, in October 2004, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center reported that atypicals were found to trigger insulin resistance in children, a condition that increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Results of the study were presented at October 20, 2004, annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Washington, DC.
In this study, the research team evaluated 11 children, some overweight and others obese, who gained significant amounts of weight while taking the drugs. Weight gain is a common side effect of the drugs, and is one of the factors that can contribute to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is said to occur when muscle, fat, and liver cells do not properly use insulin, which is produced by the pancreas to help cells absorb glucose and provide energy.
When resistance occurs, the pancreas tries to keep up with the demand for insulin by producing more until it eventually cannot keep up with the body's need for insulin, and then excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream which can lead to an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
All six children in the study who were on moderate or high doses of one of the atypicals, and three out of 5 children who were on low doses, developed symptoms of insulin resistance.
The evidence in the trial indicating the condition included hypertension, high levels of triglycerides, increased levels of protein in the urine, and low levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol.
"The insulin resistance seen in these children was greater than what would be expected from weight gain alone, suggesting there is a factor distinct from excess weight that directly induces insulin resistance," according to the study's lead author, Mark Riddle, MD, director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Children's Center.
Basically to find out how the new atypicals worked in comparison to each other and to determine whether the drugs were worth the cost, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) decided to fund an 18 month study titled, Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).
The results of the study were published in the September 22, 2005, New England Journal of Medicine and revealed that the drugs were barely more effective than no drugs at all.
The study enrolled 1,500 schizophrenic patients from 27 medical centers across the US. Neither the patients nor the doctors knew whether a patient was getting Zyprexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, Geodon, or Trilafon.
The scientists included Trilafon to represent the older generation of antipsychotic drugs.
$44 million later, the CATIE report concluded that the new atypicals "have no substantial advantage" over the old ones.
While Zyprexa turned out to be the most effective, it also had the greatest number of side effects.