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In a study released on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, heart attack risks were doubled in people taking Zyprexa (Eli Lilly & Co.) and Risperdal (Johnson & Johnson) and accordingly, are no safer than the older medications that they replaced. Both Zyprexa and Risperdal, that came on the market approximately 15 years ago, have been marketed as safer alternatives than the older medications that they replaced, that were known to increase health risks. However, recent studies have determined that Zyprexa and Risperdal are no safer than the older medications they replaced.

"This study puts the last nail in the coffin" of the contention that the new drugs were safer and less risky to the heart than the old ones, according to Jeffrey A. Lieberman, a Columbia University Medical Center psychiatrist. "It provides another important piece of evidence that chips away at the inflated and increasingly unjustified claim that the new medications are safer and better than the first generation antipsychotics."

The most recent study, that analyzed the medical records of Tennessee residents as compared with a control group, found that there were 2.8 sudden cardiac deaths for every 1,000 people taking antipsychotic medications. While the new medications were thought to make cardiac problems less likely than problems caused with the older medications, the author of the study characterized that belief as "wishful thinking."

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