From the Editor

Pimavanserin: A potentially safer alternative to clozapine for refractory hallucinations and delusions

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Pimavanserin successfully treated the hallucinations and delusions of all 10 patients in both groups. Remission occurred within 1 month in most cases, and after 2 months in 1 patient. Those patients no longer required hospitalization as they did prior to taking pimavanserin, and they maintained their response for several months of follow-up. We were also pleased to note that most patients became more sociable and affable, with improved mood and affect, after their hallucinations and delusions disappeared with pimavanserin. We did have a few patients who did not respond to 34 mg/d of pimavanserin, and some who responded for several months but then showed signs of recurrence. We are considering increasing the dose to 68 mg/d in such patients because it is possible that a higher dose may be needed in some patients with refractory illness, who may vary in symptom severity or biology.

We are now planning to apply for a research grant to conduct a controlled trial to confirm our very encouraging clinical findings, and we hope other investigators will also conduct clinical trials in patients with refractory psychosis comparing pimavanserin with placebo or pimavanserin with clozapine in double-blind studies.

As a disclosure, our clinical findings were obtained without any knowledge of, or funding from, the company that makes pimavanserin (Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc.). The company was informed of our findings only after our article was accepted for publication.

I hope this important finding of a potentially safer alternative to clozapine may address a major unmet need in psychiatry, involving the treatment of hundreds of thousands of patients with treatment-resistant or treatment-refractory psychosis, which includes patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or psychotic bipolar disorder.

To comment on this editorial or other topics of interest: henry.nasrallah@currentpsychiatry.com.

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