Does short-term antipsychotic discontinuation of up to 3 weeks worsen symptoms in acute schizophrenia? A pooled analysis of placebo washout data

Hiroyoshi Takeuchi, Kei Watabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: This study aimed to examine symptom changes during short-term discontinuation of antipsychotics up to 3 weeks including the placebo washout phase in acute schizophrenia. Methods: The data from three double-blind, randomized, controlled trials comparing lurasidone versus placebo in patients with acute exacerbation of schizophrenia were analyzed. Symptom severity was assessed using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total and the Clinical Global Impression–Severity scale (CGI-S) scores. The scores before and after the antipsychotic discontinuation phase were compared, and factors associated with score changes were explored. Results: Among 2154 patients participating in the trials, 600 who received antipsychotic monotherapy and completed the antipsychotic discontinuation phase were included in the analysis. No patients received clozapine. The mean duration of the discontinuation phase was 5.9 ± 2.5 days. The PANSS total and CGI-S scores significantly changed from 94.0 ± 9.5 to 95.4 ± 10.5 (P < 0.001) and from 4.9 ± 0.6 to 4.9 ± 0.7 (P = 0.041), respectively, during this phase; however, the absolute difference was minimal. The score changes were not associated with the type or dose of prior antipsychotics, or the duration or strategy (abrupt vs gradual) of antipsychotic discontinuation. Conclusions: Symptoms may not worsen to a clinically meaningful degree after short-term discontinuation of non-clozapine antipsychotics up to 3 weeks in patients with acute exacerbation of schizophrenia, suggesting that antipsychotic efficacy persists at least several days after discontinuation. This finding supports once-daily dosing regimen of antipsychotics and abrupt antipsychotic discontinuation when switching to another antipsychotic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-344
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Volume77
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jun

Keywords

  • antipsychotics
  • discontinuation
  • placebo washout
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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