Adjunctive Bexpiprazole May Help Individuals With Symptoms of Anxious Distress

Mature man suffering from depression lies sadly covered with a blanket on his bed and looks at the antidepressants on the table
A team of investigators sought to assess the efficacy of brexpiprazole as an adjunct to antidepressant treatment in patients with major depressive disorder and anxious distress.

The following article is a part of conference coverage from Psych Congress 2021 , held October 29th through November 1, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas. The team at Psychiatry Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in psychiatry. Check back for more from the Psych Congress 2021.


Individuals with symptoms of anxious distress and undergoing treatment with an antidepressant may benefit from adjunctive brexpiprazole, according to study results recently presented at Psych Congress 2021, held from October 29 to November 1, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas.

This analysis included 1171 individuals from 3 studies, 678 of whom had symptoms of anxious distress and an inadequate response to antidepressant treatment (ADT). These participants were randomly assigned to either ADT plus brexpiprazole (n=348; 2-3 mg) or ADT plus placebo (n=330) for a 6-week period. Anxious distress was screened using proxy criteria at the time of randomization. Changes in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score and Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self-Report (IDS-SR) Life Engagement subscale scores were used to assess treatment efficacy. Placebo and brexpiprazole doses (2-3 mg) were pooled.

Among the study population, the mean baseline MADRS total scores were 28.9 and 29.1 in the ADT plus brexpiprazole and the ADT plus placebo groups, respectively. MADRS total score improvement was higher at week 6 among the ADT plus brexpiprazole group compared with the ADT plus placebo group (least squares [LS] mean difference -3.00 [95% CI, -4.29 to -1.71; P <.001]). A similar improvement was observed in the IDS-SR Life Engagement score for ADT plus brexpiprazole vs ADT plus placebo (LS mean difference -1.26 [95% CI, -2.01 to -0.51; P =.001]). Individuals without anxious distress showed similar improvements.

The study authors concluded, “Adjunctive brexpiprazole may be efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms and improving patient life engagement in patients with symptoms of anxious distress.”

Disclosure: This study was sponsored by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc., and H. Lundbeck A/S. Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


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McIntyre R, Nylander AG, Weiss C, Zhang P, Hobart M, Meehan SR. Adjunctive brexpiprazole in patients with major depressive disorder and anxious distress: results from post-hoc analyses of three placebo-controlled studies. Presented at: Psych Congress 2021; October 29-November 1, 2021; San Antonio, Texas. Abstract 159.