FDA Approves New Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

A Marlborough-based pharmaceutical company's new drug targets depressive symptoms.

Latuda image provided.

Latuda image provided.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new treatment for bipolar depression this month. The drug comes from Marlborough-based Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, which can now distribute Latuda to American patients, specifically to those who struggle with the depressive tendencies of bipolar disorder.

Individuals with bipolar disorder often experience unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe, and are much more intense than the normal ups and downs that an average person experiences each day. Manic episodes include overly positive feelings, while depressive episodes include extremely desolate, negative feelings. An individual with bipolar disorder vacillates often between the two extremes.

Latuda is geared specifically towards eliminating those depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder, which are usually more common than the manic symptoms.

Dr. Gary Sachs, the founding director of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, says that the FDA’s approval of Latuda will be positive both for patients and their care providers. “Although the depressed phase of bipolar disorder is far more frequent than mania and accounts for the majority of impairment associated with bipolar disorder, only two treatments have been approved for this disabling condition,” he says.

Sachs also notes that so far, Latuda’s results in controlling the core symptoms of depression have been strong. Although some patients experienced adverse reactions like nausea and vomiting, the drug has fewer adverse long-term effects, like increases in weight and cholesterol, than many of the other drugs on the market.