Abilify (aripiprazole), Latuda (lurasidone), and Seroquel (quetiapine) are three FDA approved medications that are grouped in a drug category called atypical antipsychotics and used to treat both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. While each medication is capable of treating these conditions, each has slight differences that determine how suitable they are for a patient. As a result, this article reviews some critical differences and similarities between these three medications.
What Are Antipsychotics
Psychosis is a medical term that occurs when a person either hears or sees things that are not there. Having beliefs or ideas that do not conform to reality can also be part of psychosis. Psychosis can be part of various conditions including bipolar disorder, personality disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder. Another group of people experiences psychotic symptoms without experiencing any of these symptoms. If you have psychosis, your medical professional might offer you an antipsychotic to help deal with your symptoms.
Antipsychotics provide users with control of these symptoms and as a result, increased control of their lives. A large number of people who take antipsychotics find them helpful in treating symptoms. It is not possible to predict which medication will work best for each patient, and instead, it is often necessary for a patient to try several medications before finding the best. Abilify, Latuda, and Seroquel are part of the ‘second generation” of antipsychotics, which have been in predominant use since the 1990s. Some other types of antipsychotic medications make up the “first generation” of drugs and were developed before the 1990s.
How Antipsychotics Function
A person’s brain contains chemicals that relay messages from one area of the brain to another. One chemical that performs this task is called dopamine. High levels of dopamine are believed to cause the brain to result in psychosis and its associated symptoms. Antipsychotic medications function by reducing the amount of dopamine in a person’s brain and restoring the balance of dopamine to correspond with the other chemicals in an individual’s brain.
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Aripiprazole (also known by the brand name Abilify) was first approved by the FDA in 2002 to treat schizophrenia in children aged thirteen and younger. Besides schizophrenia, Abilify can also treat autism spectrum disorder, major depressive order, the manic and mixed parts of bipolar disorder, and Tourette’s disorder. Available as either a 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, or 30 mg oral tablet, Abilify is also available as an oral solution or orally disintegrating tablet for people who experience difficulty swallowing pills. Abilify is also sometimes available as an injection.
First approved by the FDA in 1997 to treat schizophrenia in adults as well as children above the age of 13, Seroquel (or as it is known under the brand name of quetiapine fumarate), can also treat bipolar disorder. Available as a 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg, and 400 mg oral tablet, Seroquel also comes in extended relief form. Many people take the medication twice a day with or without food.
The brand name for lurasidone hydrochloride, Latuda was first approved in 2010 to treat schizophrenia in adults, as well as children between the ages of 13 to 17 years old. Latuda is capable of treating bipolar depression alone or can be used in combination with other therapies. Available as either a 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, or 120 mg oral tablet, Latuda is often taken once a day and must be taken with meals that have at least 350 calories to make sure that the medication is properly absorbed into the body.
Each of three medications has some commonly associated side effects including weight gain, excessive sleepiness (somnolence), fatigue, nausea, vomiting, Each medication, however, also commonly results in some unique side effects including:
- Abilify is known to cause restlessness (akathisia), anxiety, blurred vision, constipation, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, restlessness, sedation, and tremors.
- Latuda is known to cause restlessness (akathisia), anxiety, diarrhea, insomnia, inflammation of the mucous membrane (rhinitis), and tremors.
- Seroquel is known to cause constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, increased liver enzymes, fast heartbeat, indigestion, pharyngitis, and stomach aches,
Special note should be taken that because Latuda is a relatively new medication, details about the drug, its side effects, and how it interacts with certain patients still need additional research.
Each medication has adverse reactions with three types of drugs:
- CYP3A4 inhibitors which include things like clarithromycin, diltiazem, erythromycin, fluconazole, ketoconazole, ritonavir, verapamil
- CYP3A4 inducers which include things like bosentan, carbamazepine, efavirenz, etravirine, modafinil, phenytoin, rifampin, St. John’s wort
- Antihypertensives, which are a category of drugs used to treat hypertension
As the newest of the three drugs, there is not yet a generic form of Latuda. Both Abilify and Seroquel, however, have generic forms. The generic form of Seroquel is quetiapine. The generic name for Abilify is aripiprazole. While some people think that the generic form of medications are less effective brand names, the FDA requires that drug makers prove that generic medications can be substituted for brand name drugs and offer the same benefits as the brand name version. Consequently, Latuda is the most expensive of the three medications.
Both Abilify and Seroquel are classified as category c pregnancy risks, which means that animal studies of the medication have demonstrated adverse effects on fetuses. Latuda, however, is classified as a category b pregnancy risk, which means that no fetal harm was demonstrated in animal studies but that adequate trials have not been done in humans. While Latuda is a category b risk, pregnant women should only take this medication if the advantages clearly outweigh the risk. Currently, other more common antipsychotic medications taken during pregnancy include olanzapine, risperidone, and quetiapine.
Contact a Skilled Medical Professional
Deciding how to treat bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and which antipsychotics will work best for you is not an easy choice to make. One way to make the best decision possible is to speak with a knowledgeable medical professional. By engaging in an open and direct conversation with your medical professional, you can make sure that you make the most informed medical decision possible.