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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2010 Oct;11(14):2301-17. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2010.499125.

Long-acting injectable antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia: their role in relapse prevention.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. ofer_agid@camh.net

Abstract

IMPORTANCE OF THE FIELD:

Antipsychotic medications are the cornerstone of treatment in schizophrenia, and a large body of data confirms the value of ongoing and continuous antipsychotic pharmacotherapy in controlling symptoms and preventing relapse. However, nonadherence with antipsychotic treatment is a significant issue, with estimates as high as 90%.

AREAS COVERED IN THIS REVIEW:

This review focuses on long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics and their role in the treatment of schizophrenia. The existing literature, with an emphasis on clinical evidence, is assessed. This includes both reviews and specific trials that examine LAIs and compare them with oral agents, with measures ranging from relapse and rehospitalization to adherence. Both advantages and limitations (e.g., challenges in terms of dose titration and time to steady state) are examined.

WHAT THE READER WILL GAIN:

This overview serves as an update for clinicians wishing to understand LAIs better, including the newer second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) with this formulation available, and their potential role in the long-term treatment of individuals with schizophrenia.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE:

Despite identified advantages, LAIs are not used as widely as might be expected. It would seem that clinicians are at least partly responsible for this, influenced by our own misperceptions (e.g., that LAIs are not acceptable to patients) and, perhaps, misinformation (e.g., increased side effect risk). As clinicians, we may well be shortchanging LAIs if we position them as a treatment of last resort for the multi-episode, nonadherent, 'revolving door' patient, especially given recent evidence underscoring their potential benefits in first-episode patients. The search for new and more effective antipsychotics will continue, but we are reminded that suboptimal outcomes may have as much to do with nonadherence as inadequate treatments. Evidence has established that LAI antipsychotics demonstrate distinct benefits in this regard, and we would be remiss if we did not exploit this already available strategy. As well as additional research, we need to rethink how we position these agents in our treatment algorithms if we are to maximize their potential.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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