Long-Term Effectiveness of Off-Label Risperidone Treatment in Children and Adolescents: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Discontinuation Study

Mariken Dinnissen, Andrea Dietrich, Margreet Bierens, Judith H van der Molen, Anne M Verhallen, Wieske A Overbeek, Barbara J van den Hoofdakker, Yvette Roke, Pieter W Troost, Jan K Buitelaar, Pieter J Hoekstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objectives: Risperidone is commonly prescribed off-label in children and adolescents to manage disruptive behavior. This study aimed to investigate continued benefits of risperidone after at least 1 year of treatment and effects of discontinuation on physical health.

Methods: Thirty-five youths (aged 6-18 years, intelligence quotient [IQ] >70) who were treated with risperidone for at least 1 year in regular clinical practice receiving outpatient care were randomly assigned to double-blind continuation of risperidone during 16 weeks or continuation for 2 weeks, gradual dose lowering over 6 weeks, and placebo for 8 weeks. Primary outcome was the total Disruptive Behavior (D-total) score of the parent-reported Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form-Typical IQ (NCBRF-TIQ). Secondary outcome measures were the clinician-rated Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale (CGI-I), the parent, child, and teacher-rated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), the parent-rated Retrospective Modified Overt Aggression Scale (R-MOAS), and several health parameters (Udvalg for Kliniske Undersøgelser Side Effect Rating Scale [UKU-SERS], dyskinesia, akathisia, parkinsonism, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and laboratory outcomes). Mixed models for repeated measures were conducted for continuous outcomes and a chi-square test for the CGI-I.

Results: Discontinuation of risperidone, as compared with continuation, was not associated with significant changes in parent-reported disruptive behaviors. However, discontinuation was related to significant deterioration in parent-rated verbal aggression, teacher-rated behavioral functioning, clinician-rated general functioning, and significant improvements in weight, BMI, waist circumference, and glucose, insulin, and prolactin levels. Although 56% of participants in the discontinuation group experienced relapse, causing premature withdrawal from the study, 44% was able to successfully discontinue risperidone.

Conclusion: Discontinuation of risperidone was associated with deterioration on some, but not all behavioral measures according to this explorative study. Discontinuation was associated with important health gains. Despite long-term benefits of risperidone, attempts to withdraw risperidone should be undertaken in individual children. This is a crucial step in preventing harm and fostering health.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26-Apr-2024


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