Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of brexpiprazole 4 mg/day (B4) and 2 mg/day (B2) for treating acute schizophrenia. Patients and methods: We performed three categorical meta-analyses (B4 vs placebo, B2 vs placebo, and B4 vs B2) of double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trials (DBRCTs) that reported improvements in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores, response rate, Clinical Global Impression–Improvement and Severity (CGI-I and CGI-S) scores, discontinuation rate, and incidence of individual adverse events. Results: We identified three DBRCTs with 1,444 patients. Both B4 and B2 were superior to placebo for PANSS total score (B4: standardized mean difference [SMD] =-0.30, 95% CI =-0.43,-0.17; B2: SMD =-0.30, 95% CI =-0.46,-0.13), PANSS negative score, response rate, CGI-S score, and CGI-I score. B2, but not B4, was superior to placebo for the PANSS positive score. However, there was considerable heterogeneity in the meta-analysis for B4’s PANSS positive score, which disappeared after excluding a 2018 Japanese study from the meta-analysis that included more patients on a high-dose antipsychotic prior to their participation. A meta-analysis that excluded the data from the abovementioned patients showed B4 to be superior to the placebo in terms of the PANSS positive score (SMD =-0.22, 95% CI =-0.40,-0.03). B2, but not B4, was associated with a lower incidence of all-cause discontinuation compared with placebo. Both B4 and B2 were superior to placebo for discontinuation due to adverse events and schizophrenia, but both were associated with a higher incidence of weight gain compared with placebo. B4 was also associated with a higher risk of extrapyramidal symptoms than B2. Conclusion: Both B4 and B2 benefitted patients with schizophrenia, particularly those who were not previously on high-dose antipsychotics. Both the regimens were well-tolerated, but carried a risk of weight gain and extrapyramidal symptoms, although the latter risk was higher for B4 than B2.
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