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Leucht, Stefan; Bauer, Sofia; Siafis, Spyridon; Hamza, Tasnim; Wu, Hui; Schneider-Thoma, Johannes; Salanti, Georgia and Davis, John M. (2021): Examination of Dosing of Antipsychotic Drugs for Relapse Prevention in Patients With Stable Schizophrenia A Meta-analysis. In: Jama Psychiatry, Vol. 78, No. 11: pp. 1238-1248

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IMPORTANCE The doses of antipsychotic drugs needed for relapse prevention in schizophrenia is a debated issue. OBJECTIVE To examine dose-response findings in ameta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. DATA SOURCES Studies were identified through the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's Study-Based Register of Trials (March 9, 2020), PubMed (January 1, 2021), and previous reviews. First authors and/or pharmaceutical companies were contacted for additional information. STUDY SELECTION Two reviewers independently selected randomized clinical trials that compared fixed doses of a second-generation antipsychotic, haloperidol, or fluphenazine for relapse prevention in patients with stable schizophrenia. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses guideline, all parameters in duplicate were extracted and frequentist dose-response random-effects meta-analyses were conducted. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Study-defined relapse (primary outcome), rehospitalization, Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale or Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale total score reduction from baseline, all-cause discontinuation, and dropouts due to adverse events. RESULTS Evidence from 72 dose arms from 26 studies with 4776 participants was analyzed. The efficacy-related dose-response curves had a hyperbolic shape meaning that the probability to relapse decreased rapidly with doses of up to 5-mg/d risperidone equivalent (relative relapse risk, 0.43;95% CI, 0.31-0.57;standardized mean difference for Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale total score reduction, -0.55;95% CI, -0.68 to -0.41), but flattened thereafter. In contrast, dropouts due to adverse events continued to increase beyond this dose (relative risk at 5mg/d, 1.38;95% CI, 0.87-2.55;relative risk at 15mg/d, 2.68;95% CI, 1.49-4.62). In a subgroup analysis of patients in remission, a plateau was reached earlier, at approximately 2.5-mg/d risperidone equivalent. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE The findings of this meta-analysis suggest that doses higher than approximately 5-mg/d risperidone equivalent may provide limited additional benefit for relapse prevention but more adverse events. For patients in remission or who are receiving high-potency first-generation antipsychotics, doses as low as 2.5-mg/d risperidone equivalent may be sufficient. However, caution is needed at this low dose end when further decreases of dose may be accompanied by a disproportionally higher relapse risk. Moreover, the observations are averages, and factors such as slow or rapid metabolism, age, illness stage, comorbidities, and drug-drug interactions suggest that individual patients will often need higher or lower doses.

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