Mental health charities have welcomed a recommendation for newer
antipsychotic drugs to be considered as a first choice option to
treat people with schizophrenia, but warned that other mental
health services could suffer as a result, writes Katie
New guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence
recommends to the NHS in England and Wales that newer, ‘atypical’
antipsychotics should be considered alongside the existing
The established medicines only cost around £70 per person
per year, but can have side effects such as shaking, blurred vision
and weight gain, whereas the newer antipsychotics can have fewer
side effects, but cost around £1,220 per person per year.
NICE estimates that making these drugs available would cost an
extra £70 million per year, but predicts a shift from
inpatient hospital care to community care which is cheaper.
The National Schizophrenia Fellowship said primary care trusts
and other budget holders must implement the decision, but warned
that without additional resources other mental health services
could suffer as funds are diverted.
“The government has a duty to foot the bill so that its plans to
raise standards across mental health stay on course,” said chief
executive Cliff Prior.
Charity Mind welcomed the emphasis the new guidance has placed
on informed discussions between the clinician and person being
treated, but was concerned that funds for mental health services
could be eroded and spent on other parts of the NHS.