Inhaled loxapine for acute agitation in a psychiatric emergency service

BACKGROUND: Rapid control of agitation in medical settings is necessary for safety and provision of care. Inhaled loxapine achieves peak plasma levels within 2 minutes of administration and is FDA-approved for managing acute agitation.

METHODS: We examined the use of inhaled loxapine vs non-parenteral treatment as usual (TAU) in a psychiatric emergency service for consecutive patients with acute agitation or aggression. Data were collected retrospectively. T tests were used for continuous variables and Chi-square tests were used for categorical data.

RESULTS: A total of 61 patients received inhaled loxapine and 29 received TAU. Time to outcome for patients receiving inhaled loxapine was 21 ± 21 minutes compared with 121 ± 206 minutes for TAU (t = -2.61; P = .014). At outcome, 89% of patients treated with loxapine experienced symptom resolution, compared with 69% of TAU (Chi-square = 17.4, P < .0001). Ten percent of patients receiving loxapine had no change in symptoms and 1% had worsening symptoms vs 14% in the TAU group who experienced no change in symptoms (z = 0.5, not significant), and 17% who described worsening symptoms (z = 6153.9, P < .0001).

CONCLUSIONS: The rapid absorption of inhaled loxapine is associated with a 6-fold faster and more robust symptom control.

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