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To compare the tolerability and efficacy of different antipsychotic cross-titration schedules, using data from a brexpiprazole study (Equator; NCT01668797).
Patients with schizophrenia were cross-titrated from other antipsychotics to brexpiprazole monotherapy in a 1–4 week open-label conversion phase, then entered a single-blind brexpiprazole treatment phase. Patients were stratified into four “conversion groups,” according to the amount of time spent in the conversion phase. Discontinuation rates, treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs), and efficacy (Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale [PANSS]) were compared between conversion groups.
Of the 404 patients treated with brexpiprazole, the majority (72.0%) spent 22–33 days in the conversion phase. Discontinuation rates due to lack of efficacy or adverse events were low in all conversion groups. Of the 292 patients who successfully switched and completed 8 weeks of brexpiprazole treatment, most were converted to brexpiprazole over 22–33 days (80.1%), and fewer were converted over 1–7 days (2.4%), 8–14 days (6.5%), or 15–21 days (11.0%). The incidence of TEAEs over 8 weeks was lower among those converted over 22–33 days (44.4%) than in other conversion groups (62.5–84.2%), although low patient numbers with shorter conversion times limit the generalizability of this finding. Each conversion group showed comparable improvement in PANSS total score from baseline.
The majority of patients were cross-titrated to brexpiprazole over a period of 22–33 days, by investigators’ choice. Additional data on shorter conversions may help clinicians to choose a switching paradigm that best meets their patients’ needs.
Symptoms of anxiety are prevalent in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and are associated with greater illness severity, suicidality, impaired functioning and poor response to antidepressant treatment (ADT). In MDD, anxiety symptoms can be assessed as ‘anxious distress’ (new DSM-5 specifier) or ‘anxious depression’ (score ≥7 on the HAM-D anxiety/somatization factor). Brexpiprazole is a serotonin–dopamine activity modulator that is a partial agonist at 5-HT1A and dopamine D2 receptors, and an antagonist at 5-HT2A and noradrenaline alpha1B/2C receptors – all at similar potency. Brexpiprazole is approved in the US for treatment ofschizophrenia, and as adjunctive treatment in MDD. The objective of this post-hoc analysis was to assess the efficacy of brexpiprazole as adjunct to ADT in patients with MDDand anxiety symptoms, using these two definitions of anxiety.
Data were pooled from three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with similar designs (Pyxis – NCT01360645; Polaris – NCT01360632; Sirius – NCT02196506). In each study, patients with MDD and an inadequate response to 1–3 ADTs received single-blind ADT for 8 weeks. Patients with inadequate response throughout this prospective phase were randomized to receive either ADT+brexpiprazole (2mg in Pyxis and Sirius; 1mg or 3 mg in Polaris) or ADT+placebo for 6 weeks. Proxies used to categorize patients as having ‘anxious distress’ included a score of ≥2 on the following symptoms at randomization: tension (MADRS item 3 score ≥3); restlessness (IDS item 24 score ≥2); concentration (MADRS item 6 score ≥3); or apprehension (HAM-D item 10 score ≥3). Scores on the items of the HAM-D anxiety/somatization factor at randomization (baseline) were used to identify patients with ‘anxious depression’. Efficacy was assessed as the change in MADRS total score from baseline to Week 6. Statistical analysis used a Mixed Model Repeated Measure approach using pooled brexpiprazole doses.
After 8 weeks of prospective ADT monotherapy, 57.6% (n=797/1,383) of patients met the criteria for anxious distress, and 48.5% (n=671/1,383) for anxious depression. The mean MADRS total score was 29.0 for patients with anxious distress in the adjunctive brexpiprazole (n=462) group and 29.1 in the placebo (n=327) group; while those with anxious depression were 28.9 (brexpiprazole; n=384) and 28.6 (placebo; n=282). Compared to those receiving placebo, patients with both anxious distress and anxious depression who received adjunctive brexpiprazole showed a greater improvement in MADRS total score (LS mean difference -2.38, p=0.0001 and -1.68, p=0.012, respectively). These improvements, compared to placebo, were similar to those in patients who had not met the criteria for anxious distress (-1.40, p=0.023) or anxious depression (-2.17, p<0.001).
Adjunctive brexpiprazole may be efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms both in patients with or without symptoms of anxiety.
The studies were funded by H. Lundbeck A/S and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc.
Review efficacy, safety, and tolerability of brexpiprazole in patients with schizophrenia in short- and long-term phase 3 studies.
Patients experiencing a current exacerbation of schizophrenia received brexpiprazole in two fixed-dose (2 and 4 mg), 6-week, placebo-controlled studies, one flexible-dose (2–4 mg), 6-week, placebo-control and active reference study, and one fixed-dose (1–4 mg), 52-week, placebo-controlled maintenance study.
The efficacy of brexpiprazole was demonstrated in the two short-term fixed-dose studies with statistically significant improvements from baseline in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total score compared with placebo. In the flexible-dose short-term study, treatment with brexpiprazole resulted in numerically greater improvements in PANSS total score than with placebo that approached statistical significance (p=0.056). A meta-analysis of these short-term studies showed a mean change in PANSS total score of −20.1, reflecting a clinically meaningful reduction in symptoms. In the maintenance study, brexpiprazole had a beneficial effect relative to placebo on time to exacerbation of psychotic symptoms/impending relapse (p<0.0001). For all studies, brexpiprazole demonstrated clinically meaningful treatment effects on the Personal and Social Performance scale. Brexpiprazole had a favourable safety profile, with a relatively low prevalence of activating and sedating side effects. Weight gain in the short-term studies was ~1 kg greater than placebo. No safety concerns were observed with brexpiprazole in laboratory values, electrocardiogram, or vital signs.
Overall, the results indicate brexpiprazole, used either short-term or as part of a long-term maintenance treatment programme, is an efficacious therapy option in adults with schizophrenia and has a favourable safety/tolerability profile.
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