Although recent treatment guidelines for schizophrenia recommend that the prior antipsychotic agent should remain stable for at least 2 weeks when aripiprazole is introduced, there is no trial-based evidence to support this strategy. This study was designed to compare this strategy with another conventional one in patients with schizophrenia. We conducted a randomized, 14-week, open-label trial to compare the following 2 switching strategies: (1) add-on of aripiprazole on a current regimen, wait for 4 weeks, and the tapering of prior antipsychotics and (2) add-on of aripiprazole and the simultaneous tapering of prior antipsychotics in patients with schizophrenia. Aripiprazole was initiated at 12 mg/d and then titrated between 12 and 30 mg. The previous antipsychotic medication was reduced biweekly by 25%. Assessments included the Clinical Global Impression Scale Schizophrenia version, the Drug-Induced Extrapyramidal Symptoms Scale, and the Subjective Well-being Under Neuroleptics, Short Version, Japanese Edition. Impressions toward their assigned strategy were also subjectively evaluated at baseline and end point. Fifty-three patients were enrolled, and 48 patients completed this trial. No significant differences were found in changes from the baseline in the total Clinical Global Impression Scale Schizophrenia version severity, Drug-Induced Extrapyramidal Symptoms Scale, and Subjective Well-being Under Neuroleptics, Short Version, Japanese Edition scores throughout the study period between the 2 strategies. Both strategies were judged by subjects to be tolerable and favorable without between-group differences. In conclusion, both strategies were found to be objectively safe and well tolerated. Taken together with similar results from subjective assessments, it would be reasonable to choose either of these 2 strategies in clinical practice based on a patients' preference.
*Oizumi Hospital; †Department of Neuropsychiatry, Keio University School of Medicine; ‡Inokashira Hospital, Tokyo, Japan; §Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; ∥Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and ¶Komagino Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.
Received December 25, 2007; accepted after revision May 27, 2008.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Hiroyoshi Takeuchi, MD, Oizumi Hospital, 6-9-1 Oizumigakuen-cho, Nerima-ku, Tokyo 178-0061, Japan. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.