A comparison of the efficacy and safety of olanzapine versus haloperidol during transition from intramuscular to oral therapy

Padraig Wright, Karena Meehan, Martin Birkett, Stacy R. Lindborg, Cindy C. Taylor, Philip Morris, Alan Breier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations


Background: Acutely agitated patients with schizophrenia who receive intramuscular (IM) medications typically are switched to oral (PO) antipsychotic maintenance therapy. Objective: The goal of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of olanzapine versus those of haloperidol during transition from IM to PO therapy. We used additional data from a previously reported trial to test the hypothesis that the reduction in agitation achieved by IM olanzapine 10 mg or IM haloperidol 7.5 mg would be maintained following transition to 4 days of PO olanzapine or PO haloperidol (5-20 mg/d for both). We also hypothesized that olanzapine would maintain its more favorable extrapyramidal symptom (EPS) safety profile. Methods: This was a multinational (hospitals in 13 countries), double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Acutely agitated inpatients with schizophrenia were treated with 1 to 3 IM injections of olanzapine 10 mg or haloperidol 7.5 mg over 24 hours and were entered into a 4-day PO treatment period with the same medication (5-20 mg/d for both). The primary efficacy measurement was reduction in agitation, as measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale - Excited Component (PANSS-EC) score. Adverse events and scores on EPS rating scales were assessed. Results: A total of 311 patients (204 men, 107 women; mean [SD] age, 38.2 [11.6] years) were enrolled (131, 126, and 54 patients in the olanzapine, haloperidol, and placebo groups, respectively). In all, 93.1% (122/131) of olanzapine-treated patients and 92.1% (116/126) of haloperidol-treated patients completed the IM period and entered the PO period; 85.5% (112/131) of olanzapine-treated patients and 84.1% (106/126) of haloperidol-treated patients completed the PO period. IM olanzapine and IM haloperidol effectively reduced agitation over 24 hours (mean [SD] PANSS-EC change, -7.1 [4.8] vs -6.7 [4.3], respectively). Reductions in agitation were sustained throughout the PO period with both study drugs (mean [SD] change from PO period baseline, -0.6 [4.8] vs -1.3 [4.4], respectively). During PO treatment, haloperidol-treated patients spontaneously reported significantly more acute dystonia than olanzapine-treated patients (4.3% [5/116] vs 0% [0/122], respectively; P = 0.026) and akathisia (5.2% [6/116] vs 0% [0/122], respectively; P = 0.013). Significantly more haloperidol-treated patients than olanzapine-treated patients met categorical criteria for treatment-emergent akathisia (18.5% [17/92] vs 6.5% [7/107], respectively; P = 0.015). Conclusions: In the acutely agitated patients with schizophrenia in this study, both IM olanzapine 10 mg and IM haloperidol 7.5 mg effectively reduced agitation over 24 hours. This alleviation of agitation was sustained following transition from IM therapy to 4 days of PO treatment (5-20 mg/d for both). During the 4 days of PO treatment, olanzapine-treated patients did not spontaneously report any incidences of acute dystonia, and olanzapine had a superior EPS safety profile to that of haloperidol. The combination of IM and PO olanzapine may help improve the treatment of acutely agitated patients with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1420-1428
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003


  • Agitation
  • Antipsychotic
  • Haloperidol
  • Intramuscular
  • Olanzapine
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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