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Briefs (right)

Little Advantage Seen in New
Schizophrenia Drugs

By Benedict Carey

A landmark government-financed study that compared drugs used to treat schizophrenia has confirmed what many psychiatrists long suspected: newer drugs that are highly promoted and widely prescribed offer few — if any — benefits over older medicines that sell for a fraction of the cost.

The study, which looked at four new-generation drugs, called atypical antipsychotics, and one older drug, found that all five blunted the symptoms of schizophrenia, a disabling disorder that affects 3 million Americans. But almost three-quarters of the patients who participated stopped taking the drugs they were on because of discomfort or specific side effects.

One of the newer drugs, Zyprexa, from Eli Lilly, helped more patients control symptoms for significantly longer than the other drugs. But Zyprexa also had a higher risk of serious side effects — like weight gain — that increase the risk of diabetes.

The study, released Monday and to be published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, was widely anticipated because it is by far the largest, most rigorous head-to-head trial of the newer antipsychotics conducted without significant drug industry financing. The new drugs account for $10 billion in annual sales and 90 percent of the national market for antipsychotics.

U.S. Details Charges Against
Student in Plot Against Bush

By Eric Lichtblau

An American student in Saudi Arabia who is charged with plotting to assassinate President Bush told Saudi interrogators that “I came up with the idea on my own” because he wanted to be “the brain, the planner” for a terrorist operation, American prosecutors said in a court filing made public on Monday.

The Justice Department said the student, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, “represents one of the most dangerous terrorist threats that America faces in the perilous world after Sept. 11, 2001: an al-Qaida operative born and raised in the United States, trained and committed to carry out deadly attacks on American soil.”

The department made the claims in opposing efforts by Abu Ali’s lawyers to throw out his statements to Saudi interrogators. The defense lawyers maintained that his admissions came only after he was tortured and beaten repeatedly.

The department called the charges of torture a “fabrication.” The prosecutors said that Abu Ali, after he was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2003, was confronted with evidence of his extremist ties and “quickly launched into a prolonged and detailed confession” of his involvement with a Saudi cell linked to al-Qaida.