New Drug Approved for Bipolar Depression – Lurasidone
I’m always going on and on about how there are only two medications approved to treat bipolar depression (quetiapine and a fluoxetine/olanzapine combination) and about how we need new, novel ways of treating depression in bipolar disorder.
Well, this might not be novel, but it is new.
Lurasidone (Latuda) has now been approved both as monotherapy and as adjunct therapy (with lithium or valproate) in the treatment of bipolar depression by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lurasidone was tested and approved for people with bipolar I.
What is Lurasidone (Latuda)?
Lurasidone is an atypical antipsychotic by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals that previously was approved for the treatment of schizophrenia.
In a six week randomized, double-blind, controlled study using lurasidone as monotherapy for the treatment of bipolar depression it was found that:
- The effect size for the response rate was sizeable (more than 50% of people showed a positive response)
- The risk of sedation was low (only 4% above placebo)
- Lurasidone didn’t cause weight gain
The Downside of Lurasidone
The unfortunate thing about lurasidone is its dosing instructions. It’s a medication that has to be taken with a meal of at least 500 calories (like ziprasidone) at the same time every day (yes, you have to do this for the medication to work). This is highly inconvenient, trust me.
And someone pointed out to me there are also a significant number of drug interactions to worry about.
Bottom Line with Lurasidone
Personally, I’m very excited this new treatment has been approved because it means that more people will become aware of its usefulness. While previously, anyone could have been prescribed this medication off label, now people like general practitioners (family doctors) will likely become aware of this drug’s new indication and be more likely to prescribe it.
While I’m not a fan of antipsychotics, I will say that I tried this one and in my completely-biased-single-person-only-opinion, it had very few side effects when compared to other antipsychotics (see list of side effects here). The fact that you have to take it with a meal is a pain, but completely worth it for a drug that works and doesn’t cause weight gain.
So I say this drug is a big win for people with bipolar disorder. But, like I said, that’s just my biased opinion.