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What is Saphris&Reg;?

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  • Written By: L. Whitaker
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 December 2016
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Saphris® is the brand name of the generic drug asenapine, which is one type of atypical antipsychotic medication used in the treatment of schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder in adults. It comes in the form of sublingually absorbed tablets that dissolve under the tongue and is intended to be taken twice per day. The tablets could be black cherry flavor or unflavored. Individuals taking Saphris® must handle the tablets with dry hands and avoid ingesting food or drink for ten minutes after taking the medication.

Saphris® is believed to aid in the management of psychotic symptoms by acting to restore the normal balance of chemicals in the brain, although the exact mechanics of how the medication works are not known. In some people, this drug decreases hallucinations or helps to prevent severe mood swings. The manufacturer states that Saphris® is not a cure for bipolar disorder or schizophrenia; rather, it is intended as one part of a treatment regimen that also includes counseling and support. This drug is typically prescribed for individuals with schizophrenia or those who experience the manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder. It could also have other off-label uses.

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This medication is not considered appropriate for use in treatment of psychosis related to dementia in elderly individuals, due to the risk of pneumonia, stroke, or heart failure. Asenapine is also not considered safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding because its potential effects on the fetus or infant are unknown. In addition, it is not recommended for use in children or adolescents, people with liver problems, or individuals with a history of irregular heartbeats. This medication can cause dangerous drug interactions when taken with alcohol, some herbal supplements, and certain prescription medications such as migraine medicines, antipsychotics, and some antibiotics.

Saphris® can have serious side effects in some individuals. These could include tardive dyskinesia, in which the individual experiences uncontrollable movements of the face or other body parts, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which is characterized by a high fever, muscle pain or stiffness, and other serious symptoms. Other common side effects of this medication can include high blood sugar, weight gain, lightheadedness, mouth numbness, insomnia, and sensitivity to extreme heat or cold. It might also cause sleepiness or impair thinking. The likelihood of developing a physical dependence on Saphris® is not known.

Bipolar I disorder is a mental illness featuring manic episodes in which the individual feels extremely irritable or ecstatically happy without cause. The person might also talk or think very quickly and behave in impulsive or risky ways. Bipolar I disorder can also feature mixed episodes that include feelings of sadness or emptiness and/or thoughts of suicide. Schizophrenia is a lifelong mental disorder symptomized by hallucinations or delusions, paranoid beliefs, and nonsensical speech or behavior.

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