Switching antipsychotic medications: general recommendations and switching to amisulpride.
Burns T., Chabannes JP., Demyttenaere K.
As more and more novel antipsychotic agents are introduced, the need for practical guidelines on switching these medications is becoming increasingly important. Indications for a switch include situations where the patient or his family/caregiver requests a change in medication, where the patient cannot tolerate current treatment, where they have comorbid physical or psychiatric conditions or where they have achieved only a partial remission, are refractory to treatment or have relapsed. Cross-tapering is generally the most acceptable method of switching, although abrupt withdrawal may be necessary in some cases, such as when a patient develops a severe or acute reaction to their current treatment. Possible problems of switching include the risk of discontinuation reactions and the re-emergence of psychotic symptoms. The pharmacological profile of amisulpride means it has a relatively low potential for interactions with other drugs and may be started while discontinuing the previous antipsychotic. It should be started at the target dose for the patient's current symptoms. A retrospective questionnaire among 60 patients switching to amisulpride treatment was undertaken to identify the characteristics of patients switching antipsychotics and their reasons. Patients were switched from a variety of antipsychotic medications, both traditional (42% of patients) and atypical (58%). Most patients (87%) had at least two reasons for changing medication, with lack of efficacy, adverse events and treatment optimisation before reintegration being the most common. Contrary to recommendations, 89% of patients were switched abruptly between medications. A total of 62% of patients received amisulpride doses in the range 400-800 mg/day and most (72%) required no dose adjustment. The great majority of patients (87%) switched to amisulpride without problems.