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Researchers investigating the efficacy and tolerability of atypical antipsychotics in the long-term treatment of schizophrenia found that Pfizer's ziprasidone (Geodon) in twice-daily or 4-times-a-day dosing effectively achieves remission and encourages maintenance. In a double- blind, randomized, 40-week continuation study, 72 participants with schizophrenia received 40 to 80 mg of ziprasidone bid; another group of 67 patients received 80 to 120 mg of ziprasidone qd; and a third group of 47 received 5 to 20 mg/d of haloperidol. Efficacy was defined by maintenance over a 6-month period and a simultaneous rating of <3 ("mild") on all Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale remission criteria. Researchers also used their own observations at each week's follow-up to make an assessment. Baseline severity was comparable for all treatment groups. Discontinuation rates (up to 4 years) were 65% and 58%, respectively, for the ziprasidone groups (bid and qd) and 66% for the haloperidol group. Achievement of at least one symptomatic remission was 57% for both ziprasidone groups and 45% for the haloperidol group. In the study's final 6 months, a greater percentage of patients was experiencing remission in the ziprasidone groups than in the haloperidol group: 41% and 43%, compared with 23%. These results support the effectiveness of ziprasidone in both dose regimens for the long-term treatment of patients with schizophrenia, because both observed response and clinical remission rates were higher than those of haloperidol.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.