Lundbeck has launched Sycrest, a fast-dissolving sublingual tablet for the treatment of moderate to severe manic episodes associated with bipolar I disorder in adults, in the UK.

Sycrest (asenapine) is the first tetracyclic antipsychotic to be approved and was licensed by the Danish drugmaker from Merck & Co. The latter sells the treatment in the USA as Saphris.

One of the major benefits of using Sycrest would appear to be the management of weight gain, one of the most common side effects of antipsychotics. In clinical trials, fewer patients experienced clinically significant weight gain with Sycrest compared with Eli Lilly's blockbuster Zyprexa (olanzapine). Unlike the latter, Sycrest also has a minimal effect on metabolic parameters, such as glucose, lipids and triglycerides.

Lundbeck also noted that Sycrest offers rapid efficacy as early as day two and demonstrates sustained efficacy over 12 weeks. Unlike Zyprexa, it also provides significant improvement in depressive symptoms in manic episodes compared with placebo and has also demonstrated efficacy when combined with the mood stabilisers lithium or valproate.

Stephen Turley, UK managing director at Lundbeck, said Sycrest is "an important addition to our portfolio and an extremely important treatment option for appropriate adult patients with bipolar I disorder". He also cited  "a new piece of patient insight research from the UK", with 988 respondents, which has shown that many bipolar patients have concerns about their current treatment, with 44% of patients not satisfied with its efficacy.

The launch has been greeted with enthusiasm by experts. Allan Young of Imperial College and West London Mental Health Trust noted that many bipolar patients are concerned about the side effects of taking antipsychotics "and the weight gain issue is often a cause of real concern". Therefore, "the availability of a new treatment option which has similar efficacy to olanzapine and yet an improved side effect profile is likely to be valuable in my daily practice".

Pricewise, Sycrest 5mg and 10mg tablets cost £3.42 per day and £102.60 per pack.