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Aripiprazole for Schizophrenia


By Flavio Guzman, MD

Aripiprazole (Abilify, BMS) is a second-generation antipsychotic approved in 2002 for the treatment of schizophrenia. Oral and intramuscular formulations are available.

This page summarizes the most relevant papers on the use of aripiprazole for the management of schizophrenia. We have selected mostly review papers that focus on efficacy and tolerability of this drug.

Use the “contents” navigation bar to browse abstracts.

Aripiprazole: a review of its use in the management of schizophrenia in adults.

Abstract:
Oral aripiprazole (Abilify®) is an atypical antipsychotic agent that is approved worldwide for use in adult patients with schizophrenia. It is a quinolinone derivative that has a unique receptor binding profile as it exhibits both partial agonist activity at dopamine D(2) receptors and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors and antagonist activity at 5-HT(2A) receptors.

In several well designed, randomized, clinical trials of 4-6 weeks duration, aripiprazole provided symptomatic control for patients with acute, relapsing schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Furthermore, following 26 weeks’ treatment, the time to relapse was significantly longer for patients with chronic, stabilized schizophrenia receiving aripiprazole compared with those receiving placebo. Using a variety of efficacy outcomes, aripiprazole showed a mixed response when evaluated against other antipsychotic agents in randomized clinical trials.

Longer-term data showed that improvements in remission rates and response rates favoured aripiprazole over haloperidol, although, the time to failure to maintain a response was not significantly different between the treatment arms. On the other hand, improvements in positive and negative symptom scores mostly favoured olanzapine over aripiprazole, although, the time to all-cause treatment discontinuation was not significantly different between the two treatments.

Several open-label, switching trials showed that aripiprazole provided continued control of symptoms in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Using a variety of efficacy outcomes or quality-of-life scores, longer-term treatment generally favoured patients switched to receive aripiprazole compared with standard-of-care oral antipsychotics.

Aripiprazole was generally well tolerated in patients with schizophrenia. In particular, its use seems to be associated with a lower incidence of extrapyramidal symptoms than haloperidol and fewer weight-gain issues than olanzapine. Aripiprazole also showed a favourable cardiovascular tolerability profile and its use was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome than placebo or olanzapine. As a consequence, aripiprazole may provide a more cost-effective treatment option compared with other atypical antipsychotics.

In conclusion, oral aripiprazole provides an effective and well tolerated treatment alternative for the acute and long-term management of patients with schizophrenia.

A review of the safety and tolerability of aripiprazole.

Abstract:
It seems that the efficacy of aripiprazole for treating schizophrenia is mediated through a combination of partial agonism at dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors and antagonism at serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. Aripiprazole has also received approval for the treatment of bipolar disorder as adjunctive therapy or monotherapy (manic or mixed episodes) as well as an augmentation therapy of major depressive disorder (MDD) by the US FDA.

The overall safety and tolerability of aripiprazole is favorable compared to other atypical antipsychotics across the approved indications. Aripiprazole showed a minimal propensity for clinically significant weight gain and metabolic disruption. However, extrapyramidal side effects, such as akathisia, are reported and may limit its clinical use in some cases, particularly in patients with bipolar disorder and MDD.

This review focuses on the tolerability and safety of aripiprazole across a broad spectrum of psychiatric disorders while taking into consideration results from registrational studies as well as findings from studies in the naturalistic setting.

In conclusion, whereas the comparative safety and tolerability of aripiprazole has not been systematically evaluated in comparator studies, tolerability and safety issues commonly associated with atypical antipsychotics such as weight gain and metabolic syndrome are less prominent with aripiprazole.

Aripiprazole versus typicals for schizophrenia.

Abstract:
Background: Aripiprazole is a relatively new antipsychotic drug, said to be the prototype of a new third generation of antipsychotics; the so-called dopamine-serotonin system stabilisers. In this review we examine how the efficacy and tolerability of aripiprazole differs from that of typical antipsychotics.

Objectives: To evaluate the effects of aripiprazole compared with other typical antipsychotics for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like psychoses.

Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (May 2007) which is based on regular searches of BIOSIS, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO.

Selection Criteria: We included all randomised trials comparing aripiprazole with typical antipsychotics in people with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like psychosis.

Data collection and analysis: We extracted data independently. For dichotomous data we calculated relative risks (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) on an intention-to-treat basis, based on a random effects model. We calculated numbers needed to treat/harm (NNT/NNH) where appropriate. For continuous data, we calculated weighted mean differences (WMD) again based on a random effects model. We have contacted representatives of Bristol Myers Squibb pharmaceuticals (UK) for additional and missing data.

Main results: We included nine randomised trials involving 3122 people comparing aripiprazole with typical antipsychotic drugs. None of the studies reported on relapse – our primary outcome of interest. Attrition from studies was high and data reporting poor. Participants given aripiprazole were comparable to those receiving typical drugs in improving global state and mental state.

Aripiprazole provided a significant advantage over typical antipsychotics in terms of fewer occurrences of extra-pyramidal symptom (n=968, 3 RCT, RR 0.46 CI 0.3 to 0.9, NNT 13 CI 17 to 10), and particularly akathisia (n=897, 3 RCT, RR 0.39 CI 0.3 to 0.6, NNT 11 CI 14 to 9). Fewer participants given aripiprazole developed hyperprolactinaemia (n=300, 1 RCT, RR 0.07 CI 0.03 to 0.2, NNT 2 CI 3 to 1) and raised fasting blood glucose (n=360, 1 RCT, RR 0.65 CI 0.5 to 0.9, NNT 8 CI 14 to 6).

Aripiprazole presented a lesser risk of sinus tachycardia (n=289, 1 RCT, RR 0.09 CI 0.01 to 0.8, NNT 22 CI 63 to 13) and blurred vision (n=308, 1 RCT, RR 0.19 CI 0.1 to 0.7, NNT 14 CI 25 to 10); but enhanced risk of occurrence of dizziness (n=957, 3 RCTs, RR 1.88 CI 1.1 to 3.2, NNH 20 CI 33 to 14) and nausea (n=957, 3 RCTs, RR 3.03 CI 1.5 to 6.1, NNH 17 CI 25 to 13).

Attrition rates were high in both groups, although significantly more participants in the aripiprazole group completed the study in the long term (n=1294, 1 RCT, RR 0.81 CI 0.8 to 0.9 NNT 8 CI 5 to 14).

Author’s conclusions: Aripiprazole is not much different from typical antipsychotic drugs with respect to efficacy. However it presents significant advantages in terms of tolerability due to its favourable adverse effects profile. This might enhance its effectiveness in encouraging compliance. Clearly reported pragmatic short, medium and long term randomised controlled trials are required to replicate and validate these findings and determine the position of aripiprazole in everyday clinical practice.

Intramuscular aripiprazole : a review of its use in the management of agitation in schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder.

Abstract:
An intramuscular formulation of the atypical antipsychotic aripiprazole (Abilify) has been developed and is approved in the EU for use in agitation and disturbed behaviour associated with schizophrenia. In the US, it is approved for the treatment of agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder (manic or mixed).

In large, well designed trials, intramuscular aripiprazole was an effective and generally well tolerated treatment for agitation associated with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder or bipolar I disorder. Intramuscular aripiprazole was more effective than placebo in these patient populations and was noninferior to intramuscular haloperidol in those with agitation associated with schizophrenia and its related disorders.

Aripiprazole is associated with a low risk for extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), cardiac effects, hyperprolactinaemia, weight gain and other metabolic disturbances.

Head-to-head trials comparing intramuscular aripiprazole with other intramuscular atypical antipsychotics are required before the relative position of each of these agents can be fully determined.

In the meantime, intramuscular aripiprazole, with its favourable tolerability profile, is a valuable treatment option for agitation in patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder or bipolar I disorder.

Aripiprazole treatment for patients with schizophrenia: from acute treatment to maintenance treatment.

Abstract:
The most current treatment guidelines for schizophrenia recommend more than 1 year of maintenance therapy after the first psychotic episode, and more than 5 years of maintenance therapy after multiple psychotic episodes. Approximately two-thirds of such patients are known to relapse within 1 year and almost 90% of such patients may recur within 2 years. To maintain adequate consistent treatment, balancing the efficacy and safety/tolerability should be one of the most important clinical issues. In this respect, aripiprazole appears to be a good treatment option owing to its comparable efficacy, favorable safety and tolerability profile, including low incidence of parkinsonian symptoms, lack of prolactin elevation, decreased adrenergic and anticholinergic side effects, less weight gain and low incidence of metabolic syndrome. Hence this article aims to summarize the currently available clinical trial data of aripiprazole published from a number of large-scale randomized controlled studies, including a newer formulation of intramuscular injection as well as a once-monthly intramuscular depot formulation, to update knowledge of treatment options in patients with schizophrenia.

Aripiprazole versus placebo for schizophrenia

Abstract:
Background: First generation ‘typical’ antipsychotics such as chlorpromazine and haloperidol have been the mainstay of treatment up until the introduction of the second generation ‘atypical’ antipsychotics such as risperidone and olanzapine. Typical and atypical antipsychotics do provide a treatment response for most people with schizophrenia, whether a reduction in psychotic episodes or a lessening in the severity of their illness. However, a proportion of people still do not respond adequately to antipsychotic medication. Additionally, atypical and especially typical antipsychotics are associated with serious adverse effects, which can often compromise compliance with medication and therefore increase the incidences of relapse. In this review we examine the effects of aripiprazole compared with placebo.

Objectives: To evaluate the effects of aripiprazole compared with placebo for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like psychoses.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (January 2008) which is based on regular searches of BIOSIS, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO. For this update, we carried out an initial search in May 2007 and a second search in August 2008.

Selection criteria: We included all randomised trials comparing aripiprazole with placebo in people with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like psychosis.

Data collection and analysis: We extracted data independently. For dichotomous data we calculated risk ratios (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) on an intention-to-treat basis based on a fixed-effect model. We calculated numbers needed to treat/harm (NNT/NNH) where appropriate. For continuous data, we calculated mean differences (MD) again based on a fixed-effect model.

Main results:Despite the fact that 2585 people participated in nine randomised aripiprazole studies, we were unable to extract any usable data on death, service outcomes, general functioning, behaviour, engagement with services, satisfaction with treatment; economic outcomes or cognitive functioning. In general, study attrition was very large for all studies over four weeks’ duration. There was high attrition in most of the included studies. Fewer people left the aripiprazole group compared with those in the placebo group (n = 2585, 9 RCTs, RR 0.73 CI 0.60 to 0.87). Compared with placebo, aripiprazole significantly decreased relapse in both the short (n = 310, 1 RCT, RR 0.59 CI 0.45 to 0.77) and medium term (n = 310, 1 RCT, RR 0.66 CI 0.53 to 0.81). It also produced better compliance with study protocol (n = 2275, 8 RCTs, RR 0.74 CI 0.59 to 0.93). Aripiprazole may decrease prolactin levels below those expected from placebo (n = 305, 2 RCT, RR 0.21 CI 0.11 to 0.37). Insomnia (˜23%) and headaches (˜15%) were commonly reported in both groups, with no significant difference.

Author’s conclusions: Aripiprazole may be effective for the treatment of schizophrenia. Aripiprazole has a lower risk of raised prolactin and prolongation of the QTc interval. Clearly reported pragmatic short-, medium- and long-term randomised controlled trials should be undertaken to determine its position in everyday clinical practice.

Aripiprazole in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: A review.

Abstract:
During the past decade, there has been some progress in the pharmacotherapy of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Current evidence supports the use of various second-generation, or atypical, antipsychotic medications, although few of these agents have been associated with long-term efficacy and tolerability. Aripiprazole is an atypical antipsychotic that has been found to improve positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia with a favorable adverse-effect profile.

This article reviews the efficacy and tolerability of aripiprazole in the context of recommended management strategies for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, and in comparison with first-generation and other second-generation antipsychotics.

A search of MEDLINE (1999-May 2009) was conducted for reports of short- and long-term clinical studies of atypical antipsychotics (including aripiprazole) and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials comparing first- and second-generation antipsychotics (including aripiprazole) in the treatment of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The search terms were schizophrenia; schizoaffective disorder; pharmacogenetics; adverse effects; tardive dyskinesia AND atypical antipsychotics; aripiprazole; aripiprazole, schizophrenia, AND double-blind studies; and atypical antipsychotics AND adverse effects. The reference lists of identified articles were reviewed for additional relevant publications. Only full study publications were included.

Based on the clinical evidence, including data from short-term (4-8 weeks) and long-term (26-52 weeks) randomized, double-blind clinical trials, aripiprazole has been associated with improvements in positive, negative, cognitive, and affective symptoms of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

It has been associated with long-term (up to 52 weeks) symptom control in schizophrenia, as well as with efficacy in treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Common adverse effects associated with aripiprazole were nausea, insomnia, and agitation. These effects were usually transient.

The evidence suggests that aripiprazole is unlikely to be associated with clinically significant weight gain or dyslipidemia, increased prolactin levels, or prolongation of the QTc interval. Compared with placebo, aripiprazole has been reported to have a relatively low potential for inducing metabolic syndrome.

Based on the evidence reviewed, aripiprazole monotherapy appears to be effective and well tolerated in treating the positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. It was associated with a low risk for the common adverse effects of antipsychotic therapy, including metabolic and endocrine alterations.

The acute efficacy of aripiprazole across the symptom spectrum of schizophrenia: a pooled post hoc analysis from 5 short-term studies.

Abstract:
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of aripiprazole across a range of symptoms-positive, negative, disorganized thought, depression/anxiety, and hostility-in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Pooled data were analyzed from 5 short-term, double-blind, multicenter studies (published between 1997 and 2007) involving patients hospitalized with acute exacerbation of schizophrenia (5 studies) or schizoaffective disorder (2 studies) and randomly assigned to aripiprazole (N = 875), haloperidol (N = 193), risperidone (N = 95), or placebo (N = 406). Aripiprazole doses ranged from 2 to 30 mg/day. Patients receiving the ineffective 2-mg dose were excluded from the primary analyses presented here. Factor analysis of Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) data was used to evaluate changes from baseline with aripiprazole on 5 symptom factors-positive, negative, disorganized thought, depression/anxiety, and hostility-in 2 population subsets-schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

Pairwise comparisons were made as follows for schizophrenia: aripiprazole versus placebo in all 5 studies; aripiprazole, haloperidol, and placebo in 3 studies; and aripiprazole, risperidone, and placebo in 1 study. Patients with schizoaffective disorder in 2 studies were included in the comparison of aripiprazole and placebo.

Aripiprazole was significantly better than placebo in improving all 5 PANSS factor scores from baseline (each p < .001) in the schizophrenia dataset. In schizoaffective disorder, aripiprazole was significantly better than placebo for the improvement of positive (p <or= .05) and hostility (p <or= .01) factor scores. Analysis of the 3 studies involving haloperidol showed that aripiprazole was significantly better than placebo in improving all 5 factors (p <or= .01), whereas haloperidol produced significantly greater improvements than placebo in 3 factors (positive, disorganized thought, and hostility) (each p < .001).

There was no difference between aripiprazole and haloperidol on any factor. Analysis of the study involving risperidone showed that both drugs were better than placebo for all 5 factors with the exception of the depression/anxiety factor, in which only risperidone separated from placebo. There was no difference between aripiprazole and risperidone on any factor.

In this large dataset, aripiprazole was associated with improvements in a broad range of symptom domains in the short-term treatment of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

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PDF: LAI Antipsychotics

Screenshot_2017-01-07_12.39.54

Free PDF Download

  • New formulations (Aristada, Invega Trinza)
  • Practical dosing tables
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