Guidelines for the use and management of long-acting injectable antipsychotics in serious mental illness

BMC Psychiatry. 2013 Dec 20;13:340. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-13-340.


Background: Long-acting injectable (LAI) formulations are not widely used in routine practice even though they offer advantages in terms of relapse prevention. As part of a process to improve the quality of care, the French Association for Biological Psychiatry and Neuropsychopharmacology (AFPBN) elaborated guidelines for the use and management of antipsychotic depots in clinical practice.

Methods: Based on a literature review, a written survey was prepared that asked about 539 options in 32 specific clinical situations concerning 3 fields: target-population, prescription and use, and specific populations. We contacted 53 national experts, 42 of whom (79%) completed the survey. The options were scored using a 9-point scale derived from the Rand Corporation and the University of California in the USA. According to the answers, a categorical rank (first-line/preferred choice, second-line/alternate choice, third-line/usually inappropriate) was assigned to each option. The first-line option was defined as a strategy rated as 7-9 (extremely appropriate) by at least 50% of the experts. The following results summarize the key recommendations from the guidelines after data analysis and interpretation of the results of the survey by the scientific committee.

Results: LAI antipsychotics are indicated in patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder and bipolar disorder. LAI second-generation antipsychotics are recommended as maintenance treatment after the first episode of schizophrenia. LAI first-generation antipsychotics are not recommended in the early course of schizophrenia and are not usually appropriate in bipolar disorder. LAI antipsychotics have long been viewed as a treatment that should only be used for a small subgroup of patients with non-compliance, frequent relapses or who pose a risk to others. The panel considers that LAI antipsychotics should be considered and systematically proposed to any patients for whom maintenance antipsychotic treatment is indicated. Recommendations for medication management when switching oral antipsychotics to LAI antipsychotics are proposed. Recommendations are also given for the use of LAI in specific populations.

Conclusion: In an evidence-based clinical approach, psychiatrists, through shared decision-making, should be systematically offering to most patients that require long-term antipsychotic treatment an LAI antipsychotic as a first-line treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • United States


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Delayed-Action Preparations