Rationale: What is the difference between aripiprazole and brexpiprazole? Objectives: This systematic review, network meta-analysis of randomized trials evaluated the efficacy and safety/tolerability of aripiprazole and brexpiprazole for treating acute schizophrenia. Methods: We searched Scopus, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Library from inception until May 22, 2019. The response rate was set as the primary outcome. Other outcomes were discontinuation rate and incidence of individual adverse events. The risk ratio (RR) and 95% credible interval (95%CrI) were calculated. Results: Fourteen studies were identified (n = 3925). Response rates of both aripiprazole and brexpiprazole were superior to that of the placebo (RR [95%CrI]: aripiprazole = 0.84 [0.78, 0.92], brexpiprazole = 0.84 [0.77, 0.92]). Aripiprazole and brexpiprazole were associated with a lower incidence of all-cause discontinuation (0.80 [0.71, 0.89], 0.83 [0.72, 0.95]), adverse events (0.67 [0.47, 0.97], 0.64 [0.46, 0.94]), and inefficacy (0.56 [0.40, 0.77], 0.68 [0.48, 0.99]) compared with the placebo. Although brexpiprazole was associated with a lower incidence of schizophrenia as an adverse event compared with the placebo (0.57 [0.37, 0.85]), aripiprazole and brexpiprazole were associated with a higher incidence of weight gain compared with the placebo (2.12 [1.28, 3.68], 2.14 [1.35, 3.42]). No significant differences were found in other individual adverse events, such as somnolence, akathisia, extrapyramidal symptoms, and dizziness between aripiprazole or brexpiprazole and placebo. Any outcome between aripiprazole and brexpiprazole were not different. Conclusions: Differences in short-term efficacy and safety for acute schizophrenia were not apparent between aripiprazole and brexpiprazole. Future studies are warranted to evaluate whether there are differences in the long-term outcome between treatments.
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