Effective Resolution With Olanzapine of Acute Presentation of Behavioral Agitation and Positive Psychotic Symptoms in Schizophrenia

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Behavioral agitation and prominent positive psychotic symptoms often characterize the acute presentation of schizophrenia. The clinical treatment goal is a rapid control of these symptoms. The relative efficacy of olanzapine, a novel antipsychotic drug, was compared with that of the conventional antipsychotic drug haloperidol. A post hoc analysis conducted on a large multicenter, double-blind, 6-week study of acute-phase patients with DSM-III-R schizophrenia or schizophreniform or schizoaffective disorders treated with olanzapine (5–20 mg/day) or haloperidol (5–20 mg/day) assessed the treatment effects on agitation (Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale [BPRS] agitation score) and positive symptoms (BPRS positive symptom score). Overall, olanzapine-treated patients experienced significantly greater improvement in behavioral agitation than did haloperidol-treated patients (last observation carried forward [LOCF]; p < .0002). Both groups showed similar reductions in agitation scores during the first 3 weeks of therapy; olanzapine was associated with significantly greater improvements at weeks 4, 5, and 6 (observed cases [OC]). Similarly, patients with predominantly positive psychotic symptoms experienced significantly greater improvement in BPRS positive symptom scores with olanzapine compared with haloperidol (LOCF; p = .013). In olanzapine-treated patients, improvement in BPRS agitation and positive symptom scores was significantly greater at weeks 4, 5, and 6 (agitation scores, p ≤ .01; positive symptom scores, p < .05) (OC). These data suggest that olanzapine may be considered a first-line treatment for the patient in an acute episode of schizophrenia.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 2):17-21