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Skeletal formula of asenapine
Ball-and-stick model of the asenapine molecule
Trade namesSaphris, Sycrest, Secuado, others
Other namesAsenapine maleate, ORG-5222
  • (3aRS,12bRS)-rel-5-Chloro-2,3,3a,12b-tetrahydro-
Clinical data
Drug classAtypical antipsychotic
Main usesSchizophrenia, mania in bipolar disorder[1][2]
Side effectsSleepiness, dizziness, weight gain, movement disorders, numbness within the mouth[1]
  • AU: C
Routes of
Under the tongue
External links
License data
Legal status
Bioavailability35% (sublingual), <2% (by mouth)[4][5][3][6]
Protein binding95%[4][5][3][6]
Metabolismhepatic (glucurinodation by UGT1A4 and oxidative metabolism by CYP1A2)[4][5][3][6]
Elimination half-life24 hours[4][5][3][6]
ExcretionKidney (50%), Faecal (40%; ~5–16% as unchanged drug in faeces)[4][5][3][6]
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass285.77 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • Clc4cc2c(Oc1c(cccc1)[C@@H]3CN(C[C@@H]23)C)cc4
  • InChI=1S/C17H16ClNO/c1-19-9-14-12-4-2-3-5-16(12)20-17-7-6-11(18)8-13(17)15(14)10-19/h2-8,14-15H,9-10H2,1H3/t14-,15-/m0/s1 checkY

  • as salt: InChI=1S/C17H16ClNO.C4H4O4/c1-19-9-14-12-4-2-3-5-16(12)20-17-7-6-11(18)8-13(17)15(14)10-19;5-3(6)1-2-4(7)8/h2-8,14-15H,9-10H2,1H3;1-2H,(H,5,6)(H,7,8)/b;2-1-/t14-,15-;/m1./s1

Asenapine, sold under the brand name Saphris among others, is an atypical antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia and mania in bipolar disorder.[1][2] Use in older people with dementia related psychosis may increase the risk of death.[1] It is used under the tongue.[7]

Common side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, weight gain, movement disorders, and numbness within the mouth.[1] Other side effects may include stroke, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, diabetes, low white blood cells, seizures, and QT prolongation.[1] How it works is not clear, but is believed to involve blocking serotonin and dopamine receptors.[2]

Asenapine was approved for medical use in the United States in 2009 and Europe in 2010.[1][2] The first generic versions were approved in 2020.[8] In the United Kingdom it costs the NHS about £100 per month as of 2021.[9] This amount in the United States is about 200 USD.[10]

Medical uses

Asenapine has been approved by the FDA for the acute treatment of adults with schizophrenia and acute treatment of manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder with or without psychotic features in adults.[11] In Australia asenapine's approved (and also listed on the PBS) indications include the following:[12]

  • Schizophrenia
  • Treatment, for up to 6 months, of an episode of acute mania or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder
  • Maintenance treatment, as monotherapy, of bipolar I disorder

In the European Union and the United Kingdom, asenapine is only licensed for use as a treatment for acute mania in bipolar I disorder.[3][6][2]

Absorbed readily if administered sublingually, asenapine is poorly absorbed when swallowed.[13]


A Cochrane review found that while asenapine has some preliminary evidence that it improves positive, negative, and depressive symptoms, it does not have enough research to merit a certain recommendation of Asenapine for the treatment of schizophrenia.[14]


As for its efficacy in the treatment of acute mania, a recent meta-analysis showed that it produces comparatively small improvements in manic symptoms in patients with acute mania and mixed episodes than most other antipsychotic drugs (with the exception of ziprasidone) such as risperidone and olanzapine. Drop-out rates (in clinical trials) were also unusually high with asenapine.[15] According to a post-hoc analysis of two 3-week clinical trials it may possess some antidepressant effects in patients with acute mania or mixed episodes.[16]


It is generally taken at 5 mg twice per day though may be increased up to 10 mg twice per day.[9]

Side effects

Side effect incidence[4][5][3][6]

Very common (>10%):

Common (1-10%):

Uncommon (0.1-1%):

Rare (0.01-0.1%):

Unknown incidence

  • Allergic reaction
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Nausea
  • Oral mucosal lesions (ulcerations, blistering and inflammation)
  • Salivary hypersecretion
  • Hyperprolactinaemia

Asenapine seems to have a relatively low weight gain liability for an atypical antipsychotic (which are notorious for their metabolic side effects) and a 2013 meta-analysis found significantly less weight gain (SMD [standard mean difference in weight gained in those on placebo vs. active drug]: 0.23; 95% CI: 0.07-0.39) than, paliperidone (SMD: 0.38; 95% CI: 0.27-0.48), risperidone (SMD: 0.42; 95% CI: 0.33-0.50), quetiapine (SMD: 0.43; 95% CI: 0.34-0.53), sertindole (SMD: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.38-0.68), chlorpromazine (SMD: 0.55; 95% CI: 0.34-0.76), iloperidone (SMD: 0.62; 95% CI: 0.49-0.74), clozapine (SMD: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.31-0.99), zotepine (SMD: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.47-0.96) and olanzapine (SMD: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.67-0.81) and approximately (that is, no statistically significant difference at the p=0.05 level) as much as weight gain as aripiprazole (SMD: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.05-0.28), lurasidone (SMD: 0.10; 95% CI: –0.02-0.21), amisulpride (SMD: 0.20; 95% CI: 0.05-0.35), haloperidol (SMD: 0.09; 95% CI: 0.00-0.17) and ziprasidone (SMD: 0.10; 95% CI: –0.02-0.22).[19] Its potential for elevating plasma prolactin levels seems relatively limited too according to this meta-analysis.[19] This meta-analysis also found that asenapine has approximately the same odds ratio (3.28; 95% CI: 1.37-6.69) for causing sedation [compared to placebo-treated patients] as olanzapine (3.34; 95% CI: 2.46-4.50]) and haloperidol (2.76; 95% CI: 2.04-3.66) and a higher odds ratio (although not significantly) for sedation than aripiprazole (1.84; 95% CI: 1.05-3.05), paliperidone (1.40; 95% CI: 0.85-2.19) and amisulpride (1.42; 95% CI: 0.72 to 2.51) to name a few and is hence a mild-moderately sedating antipsychotic.[19] The same meta-analysis suggested that asenapine had a relatively high risk of extrapyramidal symptoms compared to other atypical antipsychotics but a lower risk than first-generation or typical antipsychotics.[19]


For all antipsychotics, the British National Formulary recommends a gradual dose reduction when discontinuing to avoid acute withdrawal syndrome or rapid relapse.[20] Symptoms of withdrawal commonly include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.[21] Other symptoms may include restlessness, increased sweating, and trouble sleeping.[21] Less commonly there may be a feeling of the world spinning, numbness, or muscle pains.[21] Symptoms generally resolve after a short period of time.[21]

There is tentative evidence that discontinuation of antipsychotics can result in psychosis.[22] It may also result in recurrence of the condition that is being treated.[23] Rarely tardive dyskinesia can occur when the medication is stopped.[21]


It was chemically derived via altering the chemical structure of the tetracyclic (atypical) antidepressant, mianserin.[24]


Site pKi Ki (nM) Action
5-HT1A 8.6 2.5 Partial agonist
5-HT1B 8.4 4.0 Antagonist
5-HT2A 10.2 0.06 Antagonist
5-HT2B 9.8 0.16 Antagonist
5-HT2C 10.5 0.03 Antagonist
5-HT5A 8.8 1.6 Antagonist
5-HT6 9.5 0.25 Antagonist
5-HT7 9.9 0.13 Antagonist
α1 8.9 1.2 Antagonist
α2A 8.9 1.2 Antagonist
α2B 9.5 0.32 Antagonist
α2C 8.9 1.2 Antagonist
D1 8.9 1.4 Antagonist
D2 8.9 1.3 Antagonist
D3 9.4 0.42 Antagonist
D4 9.0 1.1 Antagonist
H1 9.0 1.0 Antagonist
H2 8.2 6.2 Antagonist
mACh <5 8128 Antagonist

Asenapine shows high affinity (pKi) for numerous receptors, including the serotonin 5-HT1A (8.6), 5-HT1B (8.4), 5-HT2A (10.2), 5-HT2B (9.8), 5-HT2C (10.5), 5-HT5A (8.8), 5-HT6 (9.5), and 5-HT7 (9.9) receptors, the adrenergic α1 (8.9), α2A (8.9), α2B (9.5), and α2C (8.9) receptors, the dopamine D1 (8.9), D2 (8.9), D3 (9.4), and D4 (9.0) receptors, and the histamine H1 (9.0) and H2 (8.2) receptors. It has much lower affinity (pKi < 5) for the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Asenapine behaves as a partial agonist at the 5-HT1A receptors.[26] At all other targets asenapine is an antagonist.[25] As of November 2010 asenapine is also in clinical trials at UC Irvine to treat stuttering.

Even relative to other atypical antipsychotics, asenapine has unusually high affinity for the 5-HT2A, 5-HT2C, 5-HT6, and 5-HT7 receptors, and very high affinity for the α2 and H1 receptors.[25]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "DailyMed - SAPHRIS- asenapine maleate tablet". Archived from the original on 13 November 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Sycrest EPAR". European Medicines Agency (EMA). Archived from the original on 15 August 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 "Sycrest 5mg sublingual tablets - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC)". (emc). Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "Product Information Saphris (asenapine maleate)" (PDF). TGA eBusiness Services. Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited. 14 January 2013. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
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  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 "Product information Sycrest – EMEA/H/C/001177 –II/0012" (PDF). European Medicines Agency. N.V. Organon. 21 February 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
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  8. Research, Center for Drug Evaluation and (23 February 2021). "2020 First Generic Drug Approvals". FDA. Archived from the original on 26 September 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2022.
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  12. Rossi, S, ed. (2013). Australian Medicines Handbook (2013 ed.). Adelaide: The Australian Medicines Handbook Unit Trust. ISBN 978-0-9805790-9-3.
  13. Stoner, Steven (2012). "Asenapine: a clinical review of a second-generation antipsychotic". Clinical Therapeutics. 34 (5): 1023–40. doi:10.1016/j.clinthera.2012.03.002. PMID 22494521.
  14. Hay, A; Byers, A; Sereno, M (2015). "Asenapine versus placebo for schizophrenia". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (11): CD011458.pub2. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011458.pub2. PMC 6464872. PMID 26599405. Archived from the original on 2019-06-17. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
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  17. Washington, Nicole B. (October 2012). "Which psychotropics carry the greatest risk of QTc prolongation?". Current Psychiatry. 11 (10): 36–39. Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  18. Taylor, D; Paton, C; Shitij, K (2012). The Maudsley prescribing guidelines in psychiatry. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-470-97948-8.
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  26. Ghanbari, Ramez; El Mansari, Mostafa; Shahid, Mohammed; Blier, Pierre (March 2009). "Electrophysiological characterization of the effects of asenapine at 5-HT1A, 5-HT2A, α2-adrenergic and D2 receptors in the rat brain". European Neuropsychopharmacology. 19 (3): 177–187. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2008.11.001. PMID 19116183. S2CID 140204044.

External links

External sites:
  • "Asenapine maleate". Drug Information Portal. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Archived from the original on 2021-10-17. Retrieved 2021-11-01.