Latuda is a relatively new drug, approved by the FDA in 2013. While the medical literature on Latuda widely suggests that it is safe to take as prescribed, can help someone with schizophrenia think more clearly, helps with bipolar depressive episodes, and can raise the quality of life for some, nonetheless, certain precautions should inform the decision to start or stop Latuda. Following are some topics that may be helpful in learning more about this antipsychotic medication.
Latuda (lurasidone) was approved by the FDA for treating adult schizophrenia and for depressive episodes in bipolar patients. The medication carries warning labels for the pediatric (child/adolescent) population under age 25, particularly in relation to increased suicidality for this age group. Elderly patients with symptoms of dementia should not be prescribed because of the increased risk of death in that segment of the population.
There is not sufficient evidence that establishes whether Latuda helps with treating manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.
Antipsychotic drugs like Latuda are commonly used in a crisis situation, such as an extreme episode of psychosis. Assessment as to whether the situation was temporary is often not engaged in, and the patient may be left on the medication for a much longer time than was necessary. It may be easier to find a doctor to prescribe Latuda than one who is confident or familiar enough to taper the patient off when the time comes. A person in this predicament would be well-advised to seek a treatment facility that has the kind of medical expertise that is needed to successfully resolve this possible situation.
Latuda is the trade name for the generic drug lurasidone. Latuda is also sold under many other trade names, as the medication is sold in various countries. In India, for example, the drug is sold under various brand names:
The generic active ingredient is lurasidone. Lurasidone is nearly identical in molecular structure to certain other antipsychotic medications, such as Risperdal, Fanapt, and Invega.
No evidence has been found of Latuda being popularized as a street drug, or having acquired a street “nickname”.
Many patients taking Latuda may experience mild or no severe side effects. Where side effects do present, these can be severe and some rare side effects may come on quickly and can be potentially life-threatening. Some severe side effects include the following, which are common in up to 22% of persons on Latuda:
Severe but less common side effects include:
Less severe common side effects include these:
There may be other symptoms not listed here. Should side effects become noticeably uncomfortable, one should seek medical attention right away.
Latuda withdrawal symptoms may be quite mild for some, while for others the withdrawals can be severe and extremely hard to tolerate. There are safety reasons why withdrawal from an atypical antipsychotic drug such as Latuda should only be done in a setting where careful monitoring and guidance are offered, and inpatient if possible so that even small changes in symptoms can be addressed quickly.
Latuda is a relatively new drug and there is an accumulating body of information that shows anecdotal reports of symptoms and difficulties during withdrawal. The problem with citing anecdotal reports is that there is lacking contextual data or lab testing, etc., to really analyze properly. That being said, here are some of the withdrawals reported in various forums across the web:
Unless a medical emergency arises where the drug must be immediately withdrawn to save the patient’s life, as in Steven-Johnson syndrome, NMS, or similar, Latuda cessation is typically recommended to be done on a gradual tapering basis.
Clinical trials on Latuda withdrawal symptoms could not be found. However, the FDA label information on Latuda suggests that careful monitoring is recommended when decreasing the dosage of this drug.
It is thought that Latuda may deflect dopamine from the D2 receptor. This could reduce depressive or psychotic symptoms.
As is the case with most drugs, the body has the ability to adapt which limits, over time, the effectiveness of medication such as Latuda. The body may begin to create more dopamine receptors, which can make withdrawal from an antipsychotic as challenging or even moreso than quitting heroin or benzodiazepine drugs.
Based on the aforementioned theory of the drug’s capacity to restrict dopamine, when the drug is reduced this may cause dopamine expression to resume, allowing a flood into up-regulated receptors. This may clinically present as a rapid onset of psychosis.
There may be a point where the patient becomes resistive or unable to follow pragmatic guidelines and directions, where such changes occur. In this case, working closely with a physician with hospital admission privileges is highly advised to regain control in an effective yet compassionate way.
It is probably more manageable in extreme cases to hospitalize the patient under the care of trusted physicians, so that after stabilization, resuming the taper at a slower pace may be able to be considered. Such considerations are more relevant in cases where the patient has been medicated for many years.
With such careful procedures, many patients can transition to either being completely medication-free, or to the smallest possible dose that yet supports highest possible quality of life.
Information is provided below on some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Latuda, such as drug class, and whether it has any efficacy as a sleep aid.
Latuda is a new medication and likely there is more to learn about its effects and efficacy in treating schizophrenia and depressive episodes in bipolar diagnoses.
What we do know is that prior to prescribing medications, often there is little to no investigative work done to isolate possible causes for the conditions that are problematic and need to be resolved.
Latuda is not a drug that is typically associated with abuse or addiction or addictive behaviors. However, withdrawal from a drug that causes dependence can be complex, requiring a specific and uniquely tailored program for the individual to successfully overcome the symptoms that became problematic during cessation, and also to address the reasons for the prescription in the first place.
To help understand what Latuda does to the brain, the Alternative to Meds Center has accumulated data from genetic studies we have done, wherein we have observed an association between certain conditions of psychosis, as well as low mood, with the COMT (enzymatic degradation effect) causing genetic polymorphism.
One possible theory to explain this correlation, at least in part, could point to the way that the biological or neuronal pathways for dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline function, specifically in regards to these effects on the limbic system, or emotional brain.
Further, if a person’s ability to break down dopamine results from COMT impairment, it would follow that the person may be suffering from a excess of dopamine.
More study and ongoing research is needed in the field of mental health on these and other aspects of the way certain drugs may affect the workings of the brain.
Nonetheless, at the Alternative to Meds Center we address all practical aspects of recovering from medication withdrawals, including investigating and treating the symptoms that were being medicated.
There may be other solutions that do not include prescription medication which tends to only mask symptoms, and only temporarily. Please contact the Alternative to Meds Center for more information on therapies that may prove beneficial in resolving the challenges to your health. Such problems may respond surprisingly well to natural mental health treatment. You may be able to begin to experience the relief that you have been seeking without relying on prescription medication.
Dr. Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine. Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.