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Pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia: Long-acting injectable antipsychotic drugs

John Lauriello, MD
Austin R Campbell, PharmD, BCPP
Section Editor
Stephen Marder, MD
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


The unpleasant adverse effects of antipsychotic drugs combined with patients’ disbelief of having an illness, which is common among individuals with schizophrenia, result in high rates of nonadherence to antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia.

Long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics are a pharmacologic strategy for treating patients with schizophrenia who relapse due to nonadherence to antipsychotic medication. Rather than the daily pill-taking required with oral antipsychotics, LAI antipsychotics are administered by injection at two to four week intervals.

This topic addresses the use of LAI antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia. The pharmacology, administration, comparative side effects and treatment of schizophrenia with standard (non-LAI) antipsychotics are discussed separately as is the management of antipsychotic side effects. The epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of schizophrenia are discussed separately. (See "Pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia: Acute and maintenance phase treatment" and "First-generation antipsychotic medications: Pharmacology, administration, and comparative side effects" and "Second-generation antipsychotic medications: Pharmacology, administration, and side effects" and "Pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia: Side effect management" and "Schizophrenia in adults: Clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis" and "Schizophrenia in adults: Epidemiology and pathogenesis".)


Six antipsychotic medications are currently available in the United States (US) as long-acting injections. Naming conventions vary among agents. As listed below, this topic uses the format: medication name followed by “LAI.”

Aripiprazole extended release (aripiprazole-LAI)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jul 05, 2017.
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