Can Medication-Free Research Ever Be Ethical in Older People With Psychotic Disorders?

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Can Medication-Free Research Ever Be Ethical in Older People With Psychotic Disorders?

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The history of medicine demonstrates that apparently logical ideas sometimes prove to be inaccurate when subjected to empirical research. In psychopharmacology, repeated antipsychotic discontinuations (drug-free intervals) used to be strongly recommended for treating patients with schizophrenia with the presumption that they would prevent tardive dyskinesia.1 Yet, a subsequent empirical study found that intermittent drug treatment was associated with an increased risk of persistent tardive dyskinesia.2 Now, Bola’s thought-provoking review (this issue) shows that the relevant empirical data do not support the previous notion of untreated psychosis causing long-lasting neurobiological damage. (This is not to question the serious consequences of relapse that may follow antipsychotic withdrawal.) How ethical is antipsychotic-free research in older persons with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders? The article by Bola does not address this issue directly because the studies included i

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