Quetiapine immediate release versus placebo for schizophrenia: Systematic review, meta-analysis and reappraisal.

Paul Hutton, Peter Taylor, Lee Mulligan, Sarah Tully, Joanna Moncrieff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Immediate-release (IR) quetiapine has been used to treat schizophrenia since 1997, although all the principal placebo-controlled trials have >50% missing outcome data. New studies with relatively lower rates of participant withdrawal have since been published.

AIMS:To assess the efficacy and adverse effects of quetiapine IR for schizophrenia, with consideration of outcome quality and clinical meaningfulness of results, and to examine the potential impact of missing data on the main efficacy findings.

METHOD: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials comparing quetiapine IR and placebo (or subtherapeutic dose in relapse prevention trials) for the treatment of schizophrenia (PROSPERO registration CRD4201100165). Primary outcomes were change in overall symptoms and response rates. We also examined whether high rates of participant withdrawal (≥50%) attenuated effect sizes, and assessed the impact of making different assumptions about these people's outcomes.

RESULTS: We identified 15 relevant trials (including 2 unpublished), providing the first 12-week data for this drug and the first data on self-reported quality of life. We found quetiapine IR to have a weighted mean difference (WMD) of 6.5 points (95% CI -8.9 to -4) on Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total scores, which corresponds to a standardised mean difference (SMD) of -0.33 (95% CI -0.46 to -0.21). Longer trials reported larger mean differences favouring quetiapine IR, but the overall estimate was smaller if more conservative assumptions about the outcomes of people who left the trial early were made. Approximately 21 people needed to take quetiapine IR for 1 person to experience at least a 50% improvement in PANSS score. No difference in quality of life was observed (two RCTs), although small to moderate improvements in social functioning were found (three RCTs). Quetiapine IR caused sedation and increased rates of clinically significant weight gain, but no extrapyramidal effects were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: Quetiapine IR has a small beneficial effect on overall psychotic symptoms over 2-12 weeks, but also leads to weight gain and sedation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-370
JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


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