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- Croxtall, J.D. CNS Drugs (2012) 26: 155. doi:10.2165/11208400-000000000-00000
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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 D2 receptors and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors and antagonist activity at 5-HT2a 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.