Background: In Japan, combination therapy with high doses of antipsychotic drugs is common, but as a consequence, many patients with schizophrenia report extrapyramidal and autonomic nervous system side effects. To resolve this, we proposed a method of safety correction of high dose antipsychotic polypharmacy (the SCAP method), in which the initial total dose of all antipsychotic drugs is calculated and converted to a chlorpromazine equivalent (expressed as milligrams of chlorpromazine, mg CP). The doses of low-potency antipsychotic drugs are then reduced by ≤ 25 mg CP/week, and the doses of high-potency antipsychotics are decreased at a rate of ≤50 mg CP/week. Although a randomized, case-controlled comparative study has demonstrated the safety of this method, the number of participants was relatively small and its results required further validation. In this study of the SCAP method, we aimed to substantially increase the number of participants.Methods/design: The participants were in- or outpatients treated with two or more antipsychotics at doses of 500-1,500 mg CP/day. Consenting participants were randomized into control and dose reduction groups. In the control group, patients continued with their normal regimen for 3 months without a dose change before undergoing the SCAP protocol. The dose reduction group followed the SCAP strategy over 3-6 months with a subsequent 3-month follow-up period. Outcome measures were measured at baseline and then at 3-month intervals, and included clinical symptoms measured on the Manchester scale, the extent of extrapyramidal and autonomic side effects, and quality of life using the Euro QOL scale. We also measured blood drug concentrations and drug efficacy-associated biochemical parameters. The Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia, Japanese version, was also undertaken in centers where it was available.Discussion: The safety and efficacy of the SCAP method required further validation in a large randomized trial. The design of this study aimed to address some of the limitations of the previous case-controlled study, to build a more robust evidence base to assist clinicians in their efforts to reduce potentially harmful polypharmacy in this vulnerable group of patients.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health