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Original Research

Switching From 2 Antipsychotics to 1 Antipsychotic in Schizophrenia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study

Carol Borlido, BSc; Gary Remington, MD, PhD; Ariel Graff-Guerrero, MD, PhD; Tamara Arenovich, MSc; Monica Hazra, BScPhm; Albert Wong, MD, PhD; Zaifiris J. Daskalakis, MD, PhD; and David C. Mamo, MD, MSc

Published: January 27, 2016

Article Abstract

Objective: Antipsychotic polypharmacy (APP) is employed routinely, although it remains controversial because robust evidence supporting its efficacy is lacking. In addition, it is associated with increased costs, higher antipsychotic dosing, and greater risk of side effects. Surprisingly, no prospective, randomized, double-blind studies have addressed this issue; the present investigation set out to fill this gap in knowledge.

Method: A 12-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, single-site study was carried out in individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (DSM-IV) receiving a designated primary antipsychotic plus a secondary antipsychotic, with doses stabilized for each. Individuals were randomly assigned to APP (N = 17), reflecting current treatment, or antipsychotic monotherapy (APM) (N = 18), in which the secondary antipsychotic was discontinued. Assessments occurred weekly during month 1 and every 2 weeks during months 2 and 3; the primary outcome measure was the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) total score. Other measures included the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scale, Simpson-Angus Scale, and Barnes Akathisia Scale. The study was carried out between August 2006 and March 2011.

Results: Withdrawal due to clinical deterioration occurred in 1 individual receiving APP (5.8%) and in 4 individuals in the APM group (22.2%). Overall, however, there was no indication of clinical worsening with APM, as measured using BPRS and CGI scale.

Conclusions: Almost 80% (n = 14) of individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder currently receiving APP could be safely transitioned to APM with no clinical deterioration. For those who do deteriorate, risk appears greatest in the first several months. From another perspective, results also indicate that a minority of individuals benefit from APP, and research focusing on identifying this group may represent the best strategy to curb excessive use of APP.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT00493233

Volume: 77

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