Asenapine is an established treatment for schizophrenia, achieving FDA approval with the brand name Saphris in 2009. Despite having favorable results for some, two factors limited its widespread usage. The body cannot absorb asenapine well when swallowed, so it was given as a dissolving tablet that had to be held under the tongue (“sublingual”) for 10 minutes twice a day. It had an unpleasant taste, and a common side effect was irritation or numbness of the mouth. But a new formulation of asenapine developed by Noven Therapeutics may help overcome those limitations. It is a transdermal patch worn on the skin that’s changed once a day and keeps the amount of medication in the body consistent for all 24 hours.
Some may experience skin irritation from the patch but otherwise, rates of potential side effects are similar to the sublingual form, and may include motor abnormalities and weight or metabolic changes.
The FDA approved transdermal asenapine on 10/11/19.