Gary Remington, Shitij Kapur, and Robert Zipursky
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Antipsychotic drugs, which became available for clinical use in the 1950s, were the first effective therapy for schizophrenia. They rapidly became the cornerstone of treatment programs and confirmed schizophrenia's biological underpinnings. Indeed, efforts to understand the action of these compounds led to the widely heralded dopamine theory of schizophrenia.
As clinical experience with these drugs mounted, two features became evident. First, they were not a panacea, with approximately 30% of individuals proving refractory to them. Second, this group of medications gained notoriety for their side effects, which may have been at least partially related to inappropriately high doses. In the development of new antipsychotic medications, a more benign side-effect profile has taken on as much importance as improved efficacy, and even among newer agents side effects will be an important dimension to distinguish them.
This chapter focuses on side effects related to antipsychotic use. It is not meant to be an exhaustive overview-that is beyond the scope