The relationship of pharmacology to side effects

Daniel E. Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


Most traditional neuroleptics have a narrow therapeutic-to-toxic index, and thus, the novel antipsychotics are the result of a search to substantially widen the distance between the dose that treats psychosis and the one that produces adverse effects. In vitro binding profiles have been created for the atypical antipsychotics that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-clozapine, olanzapine, and risperidone and those that are under FDA review- quetiapine and sertindole. These profiles, which were compared with that of the typical neuroleptic haloperidol, provide guidance for predicting the adverse effects produced by these drugs. Most conventional antipsychotics have central nervous system effects, particularly extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS) and tardive dyskinesia, sedation, and dulling of cognition. Other adverse effects of the typical antipsychotics include the neuroleptic malignant syndrome, orthostatic hypotension, changes in liver function, anticholinergic and antiadrenergic side effects, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain. The newer agents have a lower incidence of EPS and tardive dyskinesia, while weight gain and changes in blood pressure and liver function tests are adverse effects that have been associated with the use of the newer agents. The favorable side effect profile of these new antipsychotics is likely to make patients more willing to continue treatment, and thus these agents represent a step forward in the treatment of patients with severe, chronic mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue numberSUPPL. 10
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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