Few studies have examined effectiveness and tolerability of risperidone long-acting injections (RLAI) in the early phase of a schizophrenia spectrum (SS) disorder using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design. Eighty-five patients in early phase of an SS disorder were randomized to receive either oral second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs; n=41) or RLAI (n=44) over two years. Analyses were conducted on eligible participants (n=77) for the stabilization (maximum 18 weeks) and maintenance phases (up to Week 104) on primary outcome measures of time to stabilization and relapse, change in symptoms and safety, and comparisons made across the two groups. Both groups showed improvement on Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) scores and Clinical Global Impression-Severity (CGI-S) scores. There were no time X group interactions on any of the primary outcome measures. Post hoc examination revealed that the RLAI group showed greater change on CGI-S and PANSS negative symptom scores during the stabilization phase, while the oral group reached the same level of improvement during the maintenance phase. The current exploratory study suggests that-within an RCT design-RLAI and oral SGAs are equally effective and have similar safety profiles in patients in the early phase of SS disorders. Thus, RLAI offers no advantage to patients in early phase of SS disorders, but is likely to be effective and safe for those who may have problems with adherence and may either choose to take it or be prescribed under conditions of external control such as community treatment orders.
Keywords: Early Psychosis; RCT; Risperidone.