Dose equivalents for second-generation antipsychotics: the minimum effective dose method

Schizophr Bull. 2014 Mar;40(2):314-26. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbu001. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


Background: Clinicians need to know the right antipsychotic dose for optimized treatment, and the concept of dose equivalence is important for many clinical and scientific purposes.

Methods: We refined a method presented in 2003, which was based on the minimum effective doses found in fixed-dose studies. We operationalized the selection process, updated the original findings, and expanded them by systematically searching more recent literature and by including 13 second-generation antipsychotics. To qualify for the minimum effective dose, a dose had to be significantly more efficacious than placebo in the primary outcome of at least one randomized, double-blind, fixed-dose trial. In a sensitivity analysis, 2 positive trials were required. The minimum effective doses identified were subsequently used to derive olanzapine, risperidone, haloperidol, and chlorpromazine equivalents.

Results: We reviewed 73 included studies. The minimum effective daily doses/olanzapine equivalents based on our primary approach were: aripiprazole 10 mg/1.33, asenapine 10 mg/1.33, clozapine 300 mg/40, haloperidol 4 mg/0.53, iloperidone 8 mg/1.07, lurasidone 40 mg/5.33, olanzapine 7.5 mg/1, paliperidone 3 mg/0.4, quetiapine 150 mg/20, risperidone 2 mg/0.27, sertindole 12 mg/1.60, and ziprasidone 40 mg/5.33. For amisulpride and zotepine, reliable estimates could not be derived.

Conclusions: This method for determining antipsychotic dose equivalence entails an operationalized and evidence-based approach that can be applied to the various antipsychotic drugs. As a limitation, the results are not applicable to specific populations such as first-episode or refractory patients. We recommend that alternative methods also be updated in order to minimize further differences between the methods and risk of subsequent bias.

Keywords: antipsychotic drugs; dosage; equivalency; olanzapine; quetiapine; risperidone; schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / classification
  • Antipsychotic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug*
  • Drug Dosage Calculations*
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Therapeutic Equivalency


  • Antipsychotic Agents