Quetiapine: dose-response relationship in schizophrenia

Anna Sparshatt, Sarah Jones, David Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Citations (SciVal)


Quetiapine is a widely used second-generation antipsychotic that is effective in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar mania. In recent years, various publications have suggested the possibility that, in some patients, higher than licensed dosages are necessary for full therapeutic effect. A 'high-dose' theory of quetiapine activity has developed, leading many prescribers to disregard the formal upper limit of the quetiapine dosage range (750 or 800 mg/day, depending on local labelling). In this review, we examine the clinical and neuroimaging data relating to the use of quetiapine in acute exacerbations of schizophrenia. Fixed-dose efficacy studies of immediate-release (IR) quetiapine suggest dosages of quetiapine of 150-450 mg/day are more effective than placebo and no less effective than dosages of 600 or 750 mg/day. A fixed-dose study of extended-release quetiapine indicated that dosages of 600 and 800 mg/day were equally efficacious and numerically superior to 400 mg/day. Dosages of IR quetiapine averaging between 254 and 525 mg/day have been shown to be equivalent in efficacy to standard dosages of conventional and other atypical antipsychotics. Pooled data support these findings. Effectiveness studies using quetiapine in daily doses averaging between 565 and 653 mg revealed quetiapine to be somewhat less effective than some comparator drugs. Support for the use of high-dosage quetiapine (>800 mg/day) is very limited: case reports, albeit numerous, describe quetiapine as showing therapeutic effects only at dosages above the licensed range; some data suggest widespread use of higher dosages in practice; and neuroimaging data suggest inadequate dopamine receptor occupancy at standard dosages (although these findings may reflect the low affinity of quetiapine for dopamine receptors). Overall, robust controlled data strongly suggest that the standard dosage range for quetiapine is appropriate for clinical use. The balance of evidence does not support the belief that higher dosages are required for full therapeutic effect, although higher dosage trials are ultimately required to confirm or refute this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages20
JournalCNS drugs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2008


  • Animals
  • Antipsychotic Agents/administration & dosage
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dibenzothiazepines/administration & dosage
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Quetiapine Fumarate
  • Schizophrenia/drug therapy


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