Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the safety and efficacy of risperidone in the treatment of schizophrenic patients and determine its optimal dose.
Method: This double-blind study included 388 schizophrenic patients drawn from 20 sites in the United States. Patients were randomly assigned to 8 weeks' treatment with placebo, one of four doses of risperidone (2, 6, 10, or 16 mg), or 20 mg of haloperidol daily.
Results: Clinical improvement (20% reduction in total scores on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale for Schizophrenia) at the study end point was shown by 35% of the patients receiving 2 mg of risperidone, 57% receiving 6 mg, 40% receiving 10 mg, and 51% receiving 16 mg; and by 30% receiving haloperidol and 22% receiving placebo. Statistically significant differences in clinical improvement were found between 6 and 16 mg of risperidone versus placebo and versus haloperidol. Positive symptom scores were significantly lower after 6, 10, and 16 mg of risperidone and 20 mg of haloperidol than placebo; negative symptom scores, however, were reduced significantly, compared with placebo, only after 6 and 16 mg of risperidone. The incidence of extra-pyramidal side effects (measured by the Extrapyramidal Symptom Rating Scale) was significantly higher in patients treated with 16 mg of risperidone or 20 mg of haloperidol than placebo. The results indicate that the optimal daily dose of risperidone for most schizophrenic patients in this study was 6 mg; this dose was as effective as 16 mg, and the incidence of extrapyramidal symptoms in patients receiving 6 mg of risperidone was no higher than that in patients receiving placebo.
Conclusions: Risperidone is a safe antipsychotic that is effective against both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.