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Strategies of drug companies to optimize the sales of their psychiatric drugs

The rise and fall of the "atypical" neuroleptics: a case study in how the pharmaceutical industry hypes its products. When the atypical antipsychotics were introduced into the market in the early 1990s (most notably risperidone and olanzapine), they were presented to the public as "breakthrough medications" that were both more effective and safer than the standard neuroleptics (like chlorpromazine and haloperidol). Now we know that the atypicals are no more effective than the older drugs, and are perhaps even more problematic, in terms of their side effects. This presentation will look at how the pharmaceutical companies created the initial story of "breakthrough" medications, even though the clinical trial data they submitted to the FDA in the early 1990s revealed, in fact, that the drugs were no more effective than the older ones and caused a wide range of troubling side effects.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Whitaker, R. Strategies of drug companies to optimize the sales of their psychiatric drugs. BMC Psychiatry 7 (Suppl 1), S90 (2007).

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  • Public Health
  • Clinical Trial
  • Haloperidol
  • Risperidone
  • Olanzapine