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Raloxifene Plus Antipsychotics Versus Placebo Plus Antipsychotics in Severely Ill Decompensated Postmenopausal Women With Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial

J Clin Psychiatry 2017;78(7):e758–e765

Objective: Several single-center studies have found raloxifene, an estrogen agonist, to be effective in ameliorating symptoms of schizophrenia in stable patients as augmentation of antipsychotics. This multicenter study assessed whether raloxifene plus antipsychotic treatment, in comparison to placebo plus antipsychotics, improves symptoms or cognition in severely ill decompensated schizophrenia patients.

Methods: In this 16-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 200 severely ill, decompensated postmenopausal women who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were recruited from January 2011 to December 2012 and were randomized to receive either raloxifene 120 mg/d plus antipsychotics or placebo plus antipsychotics. The primary outcome measure was Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total score at the end of the trial.

Results: The placebo plus antipsychotics group experienced statistically significant improvement in PANSS total score (P < .001) compared to the raloxifene plus antipsychotics group, using mixed models for repeated measures, with results favoring placebo by 4.5 points (95% CI, 2.3–6.7). These results were clearly outside the 95% confidence interval. This negative effect was more pronounced in patients who had more frequent relapses and in those with baseline PANSS scores of 100 or higher. There were no differences between groups in Clinical Global Impression Scale-Severity scores or Composite Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia scores at 16 weeks (P > .3). Baseline follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol levels did not alter the drug-placebo differences.

Conclusions: Individuals in the active treatment arm showed worse outcome than those in the placebo arm, most likely as a result of chance variation, but the results unequivocally show no benefit of antipsychotics plus raloxifene versus antipsychotics plus placebo in this large randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in postmenopausal women. These data do not support the use of raloxifene in severely decompensated schizophrenia patients until reliable research identifies what subgroup of patients or domain of outcome is benefited.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT01280305