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Original Research

Aripiprazole Effects in Patients With Acute Schizophrenia Experiencing Higher or Lower Agitation: A Post Hoc Analysis of 4 Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials

Stephen R. Marder, MD; Britt West, PhD; Gina S. Lau, PharmD; Joseph A. Pultz, PhD; Andrei Pikalov, MD, PhD; Ronald N. Marcus, MD; Rolando Gutierrez-Esteinou, MD; and David T. Crandall, PhD

Published: May 15, 2007

Article Abstract

Objective: Patients with acute schizophrenia who are agitated typically manifest worse overall symptomatology and are generally more challenging to treat than nonagitated patients. In order to determine whether baseline agitation level influences treatment response, the effects of oral aripiprazole in acute patients with schizophrenia experiencing either higher or lower levels of agitation were examined.

Method: A post hoc analysis of pooled data from the first 4 or 6 weeks of 4 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled aripiprazole trials was conducted. Patients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of acute schizophrenia randomly assigned to treatment with either aripiprazole 10, 15, 20, or 30 mg/day (N = 790) or placebo (N = 397) were divided into groups experiencing higher or lower agitation at baseline. Higher agitation was defined as a baseline Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS)-Excited Component (PEC) score of >= 14 and a score of >= 4 on at least 1 PEC item (excitement, hostility, tension, uncooperativeness, or poor impulse control). Analysis of covariance was used to evaluate PANSS total, Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale (CGI-I), and PEC scores between aripiprazole and placebo within the higher and lower agitation groups.

Results: In both the higher and lower agitation groups, aripiprazole treatment produced significantly lower PANSS total, CGI-I, and PEC scores at weeks 2 to 6, compared with placebo (p < .05 for each measure). Percentage of concomitant benzodiazepine use was similar at end point for aripiprazole and placebo, and adverse events were generally mild across groups.

Conclusions: Aripiprazole significantly improved the core symptoms of acute schizophrenia regardless of baseline agitation level. In particular, agitation symptoms were significantly decreased in patients with higher baseline agitation. Improvements appeared to be independent of benzodiazepine use or excessive sedation effects. These results suggest that oral aripiprazole is an effective and safe treatment option for patients with acute schizophrenia who manifest agitation symptoms.

Volume: 68

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