Concomitant Medications May Not Improve Outcome of Antipsychotic Monotherapy for Stabilized Patients With Nonacute Schizophrenia.

Background: There are virtually no controlled data suggesting that concomitant psychotropic medications (CPMs) improve outcome in schizophrenia after the acute phase. Despite that, polypharmacy (with all of its disadvantages) is far more common than monotherapy. To our knowledge, there have been no published reports of prospective systematic investigations of the efficacy of unrestricted CPM use in nonacute schizophrenia.

Method: This was a naturalistic, systematic study using a sample of 53 stabilized patients with DSM-IV-TR schizophrenia from 1 clinical practice setting including both private patients and patients from controlled research studies of the effectiveness of antipsychotics. Since there are meager controlled or systematic data on the effectiveness of CPM use with antipsychotics in nonacute schizophrenia, we tested the clinical strategy of CPM use by gradually tapering all CPMs (except antianxiety agents). The aim was to determine if the CPM improved outcome, had no effect, or worsened outcome using the Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale before and after taper, over at least 3 months and in some cases up to 18 months after discontinuation. Data were gathered from July 2002 to June 2005.

Results: For 21 patients undergoing 22 antidepressant tapers, no change was noted in 18 of 22 tapers, while in 3 improvement was noted and in 1 worsening was noted. For the 12 patients on treatment with mood stabilizers, no change was noted in 10 of 13 discontinuations, while in 3 mild worsening was noted. One patient was on treatment with both modafinil and trazodone and reported no change after tapering each in separate discontinuation trials, while another 3 patients were taking sleeping medications and also noted no change after discontinuation.

Conclusion: For most stabilized, chronic patients with schizophrenia, tapering adjunctive medications did not change outcome. This naturalistic study further defines the limits of efficacy of some concomitant classes of medications in patients with chronic schizophrenia who are already receiving adequate antipsychotic therapy.

J Clin Psychiatry 2006;67(8):1261-1265