Antipsychotic Effective for Bipolar Depression in Phase 3 Trial

Megan Brooks

September 27, 2021

Results of a phase 3 study show that treatment with lumateperone (Caplyta) significantly improved depressive symptoms for patients with major depressive episodes associated with both bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.

"Bipolar depression represents the most prevalent and debilitating presentation of bipolar disorder. There is a critical need for more treatments that are effective and have favorable safety profiles," study investigator Gary S. Sachs, MD, associate clinical professor in psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, said in a company news release.

"The strong efficacy and impressive safety results reported in this trial for a broad patient population position lumateperone as a potentially important advancement in the treatment of this disorder," said Sachs, who is also founding director of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

The findings were published online September 23 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

First-in-Class Antipsychotic

Lumateperone is a first-in-class antipsychotic that acts synergistically through the serotonergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic systems.

It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late 2019 for the treatment of adults with schizophrenia, as reported at the time by Medscape Medical News.

The current study included 377 patients who had received a clinical diagnosis of bipolar I or bipolar II disorder and were subject to major depressive episodes. All were randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio to receive 6 weeks of lumateperone monotherapy at 42 mg/d or matching placebo.

At day 43, lumateperone treatment was associated with significantly greater improvement from baseline in Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score in comparison with placebo (drug-placebo difference, -4.6 points; P < .0001; effect size = -0.56), which met the study's primary endpoint.

The study drug led to significant improvement in MADRS total score as early as the first week, which was the first time point measured. Improvement continued throughout the study.

Treatment with lumateperone also led to significantly greater improvement in the key secondary endpoints of total score on the severity scale of the Clinical Global Impressions Scale–Bipolar Version (CGI-BP-S) (P < .0001; effect size = -0.46) and the CGI-BP-S depression score (P < .001; effect size = -50).

In addition, it was superior to placebo both for patients with bipolar I disorder and those with bipolar II disorder.

Somnolence and nausea were the most commonly reported adverse events associated with lumateperone. Minimal changes were observed in weight and vital signs and in results of metabolic or endocrine assessments. These findings are in line with previous studies involving patients with schizophrenia.

The incidence of extrapyramidal symptom–related events was low and was similar to those with placebo.

The company has submitted a supplemental new drug application for lumateperone for the treatment of bipolar depression, which is currently under review with the FDA. The target action date is December 17.

Psychiatry. Published online September 23, 2021. Abstract

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