Antipsychotic polypharmacy and augmentation strategies prior to clozapine initiation: A historical cohort study of 310 adults with treatment-resistant schizophrenic disorders

Joseph V Thompson, Joanne M Clark, Sophie E Legge, Giouliana Kadra-Scalzo, Johnny Downs, James Tr Walters, Marian L Hamshere, Richard D Hayes, David Taylor, James H. MacCabe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

RATIONALE: Antipsychotic polypharmacy (APP) is commonly used in schizophrenia despite a lack of robust evidence for efficacy, as well as evidence of increased rates of adverse drug reactions and mortality.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to examine APP and the use of other adjunctive medications in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenic disorders (ICD-10 diagnoses F20-F29) immediately prior to clozapine initiation, and to investigate clinical and sociodemographic factors associated with APP use in this setting.

METHODS: Analysis of case notes from 310 patients receiving their first course of clozapine at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM) was undertaken using the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) case register. Medication taken immediately prior to clozapine initiation was recorded, and global clinical severity was assessed at time points throughout the year prior to medication assessment using the Clinical Global Impression - Severity scale (CGI-S). Logistic regression was used to investigate factors associated with APP.

RESULTS: The point prevalence of APP prior to clozapine initiation was 13.6% (n=42), with 32.6% of subjects prescribed adjuvant psychotropic medications. APP was associated with increasing number of adjuvant medications (odds ratio (OR) 1.97, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27-3.06), concurrent depot antipsychotic prescription (OR 2.64, CI 1.24-5.62), concurrent antidepressant prescription (OR 4.40, CI 1.82-10.63) and a CGI-S over the previous year within the two middle quartiles (Quartile 2 vs 1 OR 6.19, CI 1.81-21.10; Quartile 3 vs 1 OR 4.45, CI 1.29-15.37; Quartile 4 vs 1 OR 1.88, CI 0.45-7.13).

CONCLUSIONS: APP and augmentation of antipsychotics with antidepressants, mood stabilizers and benzodiazepines are being employed in treatment-resistant schizophrenia prior to clozapine. The conservative APP rate observed may have been influenced by an initiative within SLaM that reduced APP rates during the study window. Efforts to reduce the use of poorly evidenced prescribing should focus on adjuvant medications as well as APP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-443
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England)
Volume30
Issue number5
Early online date23 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • adjunctive
  • antidepressant
  • antipsychotic
  • augmentation
  • benzodiazepine
  • clozapine
  • mood stabilizer
  • polypharmacy
  • Schizophrenia
  • treatment resistant

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