Introduction: Patients with schizophrenia use the Internet not only in search of support, but also to share their knowledge about the effects of medication. The aim of the study was a comparative analysis of the side effects of the second generation antipsychotics (SGAs) as described on the www.schizofrenia.evot.org forum and those listed in the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC).
Method: Patients' posts in the section "drugs, therapies" (Polish: "leki, terapie") subsection "antipsychotics" (Polish: "neuroleptyki") were analysed for the period between February 2003 and March 2013. We were looking for information on the tolerance of the following drugs: amisulpride, aripiprazole, clozapine, quetiapine, olanzapine, risperidone, sertindole and ziprasidone. Next, we calculated the frequency of the occurrence of each side effect (in percentages) and presented the data against the frequency of their occurrence as listed in the SPCs.
Results: Users of the forum paid most attention to drowsiness, effects of the drug on body weight, disorders of sexual function and psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, depression and cognitive disorders. The mention of gastroenterological symptoms and dizziness was lower than their occurrence in the relevant SPCs. Most users did not report any deviations in the results of their laboratory tests or ECG. What has been noted, however, is the aggravation of the symptoms of glaucoma in clozapine users, which was a serious side effect reported on the forum yet absent from the SPC.
Conclusions: The ofﬁ cial information released about a pharmaceutical product often varies from the opinions given by its users. However patients' subjective opinions, even if their sources are hard to verify scientiﬁ cally, play an important role in the healing process and should not be ignored.