Rationale: Switching patients from one anti-psychotic to another can lead to tolerability problems or transient symptom exacerbations. It is important to compare switching strategies to determine which methods produce the best possible patient outcomes. Objective: To investigate the efficacy, safety and tolerability of three dosing strategies for switching chronic, stable patients with schizophrenia from current oral antipsychotic monotherapy to once-daily oral aripiprazole monotherapy. Method: Patients in this 8-week, open-label, outpatient study were randomized to: 1) immediate initiation of 30 mg/day aripiprazole with simultaneous immediate discontinuation of current antipsychotic; 2) immediate initiation of 30 mg/day aripiprazole while tapering off current antipsychotic over 2 weeks; or 3) up-titrating aripiprazole to 30 rag/day over 2 weeks, while simultaneously tapering off current antipsychotic. Efficacy assessments included PANSS, CGI-S, and CGI-I scores. Safety assessments included: adverse events (AEs) recording, evaluation of extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), vital signs, ECG, and clinical laboratory tests. Results: Efficacy with aripiprazole was maintained during the study with numerical improvements compared with baseline in all three groups. The overall incidence of AEs was broadly comparable across all groups, and AEs were generally mild to moderate in severity and time-limited. Discontinuations due to AEs were comparable across the groups. No deterioration in EPS occurred in any group. The reduction in body weight and plasma prolactin levels following switch to aripiprazole were comparable across the three groups. Conclusion: Any of the three strategies evaluated can be used safely for switching patients to aripiprazole from antipsychotic monotherapy. Furthermore, patients' symptoms may continue to improve after switching to aripiprazole.
- Atypical antipsychotic
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