Saphris (Asenapine): An antipsychotic drug
What is Saphris?
Saphris is an antipsychotic medication which works by changing the actions of chemicals in the brain. However, the exact mechanism of action of this drug is not known.
This drug is used to treat certain mood disorders such as bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia. This drug can be used in adults and in children who are 10 years and above.
What are the indications for Saphris?
The indications of Saphris include:
- Schizophrenia in adults
- Bipolar affective disorder
How should this drug be taken?
Before taking saphris
You have to make sure that it is safe for you to take saphris and therefore, tell your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Hypertension (Elevated blood pressure)
- Problems with heart rhythm
- Epilepsy or history of seizure
- History of heart attack or stroke
- History of breast cancer
- Parkinsons disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- History reduced white blood cell count
- Personal or family history of long QT syndrome
- If you are pregnant – This is important because there is not much of evidence available to say for sure if Saphris harms the fetus or not.
Taking the drug…
Usually, Saphris is taken twice a day. Avoid taking this medication in smaller or larger quantities or longer than recommended.
The tablets should be stored at room temperature between 200C to 250C in a closed container, away from light, heat and moisture. Do not remove the tablet from the packet until you are ready to administer it. Hands should be kept dry when handling the tablet.
Saphris is usually given sublingually. This means that this tablet is usually placed under the tongue. Keep the tablet beneath the tongue and it will dissolve immediately. Avoid breaking or crushing the tablet. It is also important that you do not swallow the tablet. Let it dissolve under the tongue on its own and do not chew the table. As the tablet is dissolving, swallow several times. Do not eat or drink for ten minutes after the tablet has dissolved.
What dose of Saphris should you take?
The dose of Saphris differs from one patient to another as Saphris is used to treated different conditions and the severity of these conditions is not the same in all the patients. Therefore depending on the condition and its severity, dosing of Saphris will change. However, here is some information regarding the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different to the ones given here, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
Adults: Initially dosing will begin from 5 to 10 milligrams (mg) two times a day. Your doctor will make changes to this according to the state of your medical condition and the response to this drug.
Children between the ages 10 to 17 years: Initial dosing may start from 2.5 to 10 milligrams (mg) twice a day.
Adults: Initial dosing is started at 5 milligrams (mg)
Children: Your doctor will determine if this drug is suitable for the child and if so what dose of the drug should be started.
What should you do if you miss a dose?
If you miss your dose of Saphris, then it is recommended that you take the missed pill as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next scheduled dose then skip the missed dose. Avoid taking extra pills to make up for the missed dose.
Is there anything you should avoid while taking Saphris?
Saphris makes you more susceptible to extremes of temperature therefore avoid being exposed to too cold or too hot environments. It is also important that you keep yourself hydrated to avoid dehydration. Therefore more fluids should be taken, especially when you are exposed to a hot environment or while working out.
Saphris also affects the ability to think and the reaction time. Therefore do not drink or operate any machinery after taking the tablet.
Saphris also can make you a bit dizzy and therefore avoid getting up rapidly from a seated or lying position as this can precipitate the dizziness.
Alcohol should be avoided while you are on Saphris as dangerous side effects are a possibility.
What are the side effects of Saphris?
The side effects of Saphris include:
- Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis – If you develop signs of an allergic reaction such as wheezing, hives, rapid heartbeat, light headedness, difficulty in breathing or swelling of the face and lips, immediately get emergency help.
- Neurological problems such as rigid (stiff) muscles, high fever, light headedness, tremors, twitching of certain muscle groups, confusion or involuntary movements of the eyes, tongue, lips, face, arms or legs, immediately stop taking the medicine and consult your doctor regarding this.
- Trouble swallowing
- Sudden numbness or weakness localized to one side of the body
- Sudden severe headache
- Slurred speech
- Problems with vision or balance
- Breast pain or discharge from the nipples
If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, contact your doctor immediately for advice.
The most common side effects of Saphris include:
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Restlessness or inability to stay still
- Tingling sensation inside or around the mouth
- Numbness inside or around the mouth
- Alteration in sense of taste
- Increase in appetite and therefore weight gain
- Peeling of your gums
- Ulceration or blister formation on gums
- Affects blood sugar levels – This is essentially important for diabetic patients.
Are there any contraindications for Saphris?
Yes, Saphris is usually contraindicated in patients who have:
- A history of hypersensitive reaction to Asenaphine.
- Severe hepatic impairment
Is Saphris safe for breast feeding women?
There is not much evidence available to determine the risk to the infant when the drug is used while breastfeeding. Therefore consult your doctor regarding this and he or she will weigh the potential benefits against the risks to decide if this drug is safe or not during breast feeding.