Meta-analysis comparing newer antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia: evaluating the indirect approach

L Sauriol, M Laporta, M D Edwardes, M Deslandes, N Ricard, S Suissa
Clinical Therapeutics 2001, 23 (6): 942-56

BACKGROUND: Meta-analysis is a useful method to assess the efficacy of newer antipsychotic drugs compared with older drugs or placebo. However, few trials directly compare novel drugs to each other.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the method of indirect meta-analysis by applying it to data on olanzapine versus haloperidol and risperidone versus haloperidol to enable a comparison between olanzapine and risperidone.

METHODS: Published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of risperidone, olanzapine, and/or haloperidol were identified through literature searches (1983 to 1999) of the MEDLINE, Current Contents, and HealthSTAR databases and reviewed. Data for the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) total score, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) negative subscale, the percentage of patients using anticholinergic drugs, and the percentage of patients dropping out due to lack of efficacy, side effects, or any cause were extracted and combined using the indirect method. These findings were compared with those from a direct comparative study of olanzapine and risperidone.

RESULTS: The literature search yielded 8 RCTs comparing risperidone to haloperidol and 3 comparing olanzapine to haloperidol. Only 1 trial directly comparing olanzapine and risperidone was found. In this trial, the change in BPRS total and PANSS negative subscale scores tended to be higher with olanzapine by 1.80 and 1.10, respectively, but these differences were not statistically significant. Indirect meta-analysis yielded similar results. Changes in both BPRS total scores and PANSS negative subscale scores tended to be higher with olanzapine by 0.37 and 0.54, respectively, and again, the differences were not statistically significant. In the indirect meta-analysis, the rate of anticholinergic drug use was 19.5% greater among patients treated with risperidone than among patients treated with olanzapine (P < 0.05). In the direct comparative RCT, the rate was 13.1% higher among patients treated with risperidone (P < 0.05). The dropout rates were similar for patients treated with risperidone and those treated with olanzapine in both analyses.

CONCLUSION: An indirect meta-analysis of studies comparing olanzapine with haloperidol and risperidone with haloperidol yielded conclusions similar to those found in a direct comparative RCT of olanzapine and risperidone.

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