Perspectives |

Placebo or Active Control Trials of Antipsychotic Drugs?

W. Wolfgang Fleischhacker, MD; Pal Czobor, PhD; Martina Hummer, MD; Georg Kemmler, PhD; Ralf Kohnen, PhD; Jan Volavka, MD, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(5):458-464. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.60.5.458.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

  The placebo-controlled trial has been the standard method to demonstrate efficacy and safety of antipsychotic drugs. We reviewed the scientific and ethical advantages and disadvantages of the placebo-controlled trial and an alternative method, the active-control trial, focusing more specifically on the active-control noninferiority trial. Recent meta-analyses indicate that a therapeutic dose of second-generation antipsychotic will very likely be statistically superior to placebo in an adequate trial, and that the average improvement of schizophrenia symptoms in a placebo arm will be small. These findings strengthen the scientific and ethical justification for the active-control noninferiority trial. New drugs in the pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia are often claimed to differ from their marketed competitors in their safety profile rather than in antipsychotic efficacy. Thus, in many cases, it appears sufficient to demonstrate mere noninferiority (rather than superiority) of antipsychotic efficacy in comparison with a standard antipsychotic. The active-control noninferiority trial is suitable for such demonstration. Sample size requirements for various equivalence margins in noninferiority trials are provided. Scientific and ethical arguments should lead to a more frequent use of the active-control noninferiority trial design.

Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours





Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Submit a Comment


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Web of Science® Times Cited: 22

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Topics
PubMed Articles