Bipolar Drug Successfully Delays Time to Relapse
A long-term study of the atypicalantipsychotic aripiprazole (Abilify) showedthat the drug significantly delays the timeuntil relapse in adults with bipolar disorderwho recently experienced a manic ormixed episode followed by stabilization.Researchers used rigorous criteria forthe definition of stability for bipolar I disorderas the basis of their data and subsequentfindings.This study was the longest to date ofthe drug Abilify for the treatment of bipolarI disorder. The double-blind, randomized,placebo-controlled study assigned161 adults to either Abilify or placebo.Researchers'primary goal was determiningthe time to relapse for a manic,mixed, or depressive episode up to andincluding week 26.In this study, stabilization meant maintaininga score of 10 or less on the YoungMania Rating Scale and 13 or less on theMontgomery-Asberg Depression RatingScale for 6 weeks before randomlybeginning the study. Following the 26-week phase, patients had the option ofcontinuing for an additional 74 to 100weeks. When a predetermined numberof participants relapsed, the study wasterminated.Sixty-seven of the 161 adults whobegan the study completed the initial 26-week portion; only one adult did notmove to the next phase. Of those 66, 30discontinued the study for various reasons,24 discontinued because of studytermination, and 12 completed the extra74 weeks. These drop-out rates are typicalof long-term studies of patients withbipolar I disorder.What researchers were able to determinewas that adults with up to 100weeks of treatment with Abilify showeda delay in time to relapse (manic, depressive,or mixed), compared with placebo.Most relapses were the result of manicrather than depressive symptoms. The100-week results were comparable withthe 26-week results.Findings appeared in a supplement tothe December 2006 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.