Comparison of risperidone oral solution and intramuscular haloperidol with the latter shifting to oral therapy for the treatment of acute agitation in patients with schizophrenia

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This randomized, parallel-group, open study investigated the efficacy and safety of risperidone oral solution (RIS-OS) in combination with clonazepam and intramuscular haloperidol for the treatment of acute agitation in patients with schizophrenia, and the study explored the possibility of decreasing the efficacy of an acute 6-week treatment by switching intramuscular haloperidol injection to RIS-OS. Two hundred and five agitation-exhibiting schizophrenic inpatients at six hospitals were originally included in the study. The 47-day trial consisted of 5 days (session I) of receiving either oral treatment (RIS-OS plus clonazepam) or intramuscular treatment (intramuscular haloperidol) and a 42-day (session II) period of either withdrawing from clonazepam or shifting from intramuscular haloperidol to a RIS-OS period. The primary efficacy outcome was measured as the change in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale-Excited Component (PANSS-EC) in session I and the change in the PANSS in session II. Safety was assessed by the frequency of the adverse events. Mean PANSS-EC improvement was significant after 5 days of treatment in both groups (P>0.05) and was similar between the two treatment groups (P<0.01). Most patients’ PANSS-EC scores improved or remained stable during the drawback/shift treatment period. Efficacy was not significantly different between the two treatment groups after the 6-week treatment (P>0.05). However, combination treatment exhibited greater efficacy, and adverse events, especially extrapyramidal symptoms, were lower with the oral treatment than with the intramuscular treatment in session I. These results show that RIS-OS in combination with clonazepam is an effective treatment, comparable with intramuscular haloperidol, and is well-tolerated for acute agitation in patients with schizophrenia.

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