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Review of the safety, efficacy, and side effect profile of asenapine in the treatment of bipolar 1 disorder

Authors Gonzalez J, Thompson, Moore T

Published 1 July 2011 Volume 2011:5 Pages 333—341


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Jodi M Gonzalez1, Peter M Thompson1, Troy A Moore1,2
University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA; 2South Texas Veterans Health Care System, TX, USA

Objective: Asenapine is approved for acute manic and mixed states in bipolar disorder. The objective is to review the efficacy of asenapine in bipolar disorder, with a particular focus on acceptability and adherence to treatment.
Methods: Five clinical trials were conducted in bipolar disorder manic or mixed states: two 3-week trials (n = 976) comparing asenapine to placebo, a 9-week extension (n = 504), and a 40-week extension (n = 107). One trial was conducted comparing asenapine to placebo (n = 326) as adjunctive therapy for subjects with an incomplete response to lithium or valproate. All trials were conducted in the USA and internationally.
Results: Asenapine was found to be efficacious for manic and mixed states in bipolar disorder compared with placebo control, and compares equally well to olanzapine on efficacy measures after 3 weeks of treatment. Asenapine was not found to be efficacious for depression symptoms. Common asenapine side effects in the 40-week extension trial were sedation, insomnia, and dizziness, and 31% reported clinically significant weight gain, compared with 55% reporting clinically significant weight gain with olanzapine. Additionally, 18% had clinically significant changes in fasting blood glucose levels compared to 22% of those on olanzapine. In terms of patient acceptability, one concern may be sublingual administration requiring no liquids or food for 10 minutes after dosing and a twice-daily regimen. Suggestions about addressing barriers to adherence and acceptability are provided.
Conclusion: Asenapine is a promising new medication in bipolar disorder. Asenapine in the long-term has a more favorable weight gain profile compared to olanzapine. No benefit was seen for depression symptoms, a major patient-reported concern. Some side effects do not remit after the short-term trials in at least 10% of patients.

Keywords: asenapine, antipsychotic, adherence, acceptability, metabolic syndrome

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