Introduction: Aripiprazole, a dopamine D2 receptor partial agonist, has also partial agonist activity at serotonin (5-HT)1A receptors and antagonist activity at 5-HT2A receptors.
Methods: In this 8-week, multicenter, randomized, parallel-group, open-label, flexible-dose study, patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were randomized to aripiprazole 15–30 mg/day or haloperidol 10–15 mg/day.
Results: Patients treated with both aripiprazole and haloperidol improved from baseline in Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale total, positive, and negative scores as well as in Clinical Global Impressions scores (all P<.001). At the end of the study, the percentage of patients classified as responders—according to ≥40% reduction in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale negative subscale score—was significantly higher in the aripiprazole group (20%) than in the haloperidol group (0%) (P<.05). Additionally, a higher number of patients receiving haloperidol required more anticholinergic medications (P<.001) than aripiprazole-treated patients, whereas more aripiprazole (45.5%) than haloperidol-treated patients (12.9%) required benzodiazepines (P=.002). At endpoint, rates of preference of medication were higher in the aripiprazole group (63.2%) than in the haloperidol group (21.7%), as expressed by patients and caregivers (P=.001).
Conclusion: Aripiprazole and haloperidol had similar efficacy in terms of reduction of overall psychopathology. Although aripiprazole has been demonstrated to be superior concerning negative symptoms and in terms of tolerability (extrapyramidal symptoms) and preferred by patients and caregivers than haloperidol, significantly more aripiprazole-treated patients required benzodiazepines.