The risks and benefits of switching patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder from two to one antipsychotic medication: A randomized controlled trial.

The risks and benefits of switching patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder from two to one antipsychotic medication: A randomized controlled trial.

Schizophr Res. 2015 Jun 30;

Authors: Constantine RJ, Andel R, McPherson M, Tandon R

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Despite little evidence to support its use and practice guidelines discouraging the practice, antipsychotic polypharmacy is widely prevalent in schizophrenia. This randomized controlled trial studied the effects of switching patients stable on two antipsychotic medications to one antipsychotic medication.
METHOD: 104 adult outpatients with schizophrenia from 7 community mental health centers clinically stable on concurrent treatment with 2 antipsychotics were randomly assigned to stay on polypharmacy or to switch to antipsychotic monotherapy. Participants were followed for 1-year with assessments of symptoms and side effects occurring every 60days (7 total assessments). We examined differences in time trajectories in symptoms (PANSS, CGI) and side effects (EPS, metabolic, other) as a function of group assignment (switch vs. stay) and time, using intention-to-treat analysis.
RESULTS: Participants who switched to antipsychotic monotherapy experienced greater increases in symptoms than stay patients. These differences emerged in the second 6months of the trial. All-cause discontinuation rates over the 1-year trial were higher in the switch-to-monotherapy group than in the stay-on-polypharmacy group (42% vs. 13%; p<0.01). There were no differences in change over time in any of the side effect measures, except that stay patients experienced a greater decrease in Simpson Angus total scores than switch patients.
CONCLUSION: Clinicians should be cautious in switching patients with chronic schizophrenia who are stable on 2 antipsychotics to one antipsychotic. Given the challenges in discontinuing antipsychotic polypharmacy, adequate trials of evidence-based treatments such as clozapine and long-acting injectable antipsychotics should be undertaken in inadequately responsive schizophrenia patients before moving to antipsychotic polypharmacy.

PMID: 26141142 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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