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A single-dose, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of sublingual asenapine for acute agitation




To assess sublingual asenapine for acute agitation.


Agitated adults 18–65 years (any diagnosis) presenting for treatment in an emergency department and found to have a score of ≥14 on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale-Excited Component (PANSS-EC) were randomized to receive either a single dose of a sublingual 10 mg tablet of asenapine or placebo. Primary outcome measure was change in the PANSS-EC score from baseline to 2 h after medication or placebo administration. Secondary outcomes included the percentage of responders with a ≥ 40% reduction from baseline on the PANSS-EC score at 2 h.


A total of 120 subjects were randomized, 60 each to sublingual asenapine or placebo. Mean (SE) baseline PANSS-EC scores for the asenapine-treated and placebo-treated subjects were 19.4 ± 0.66 and 20.1 ± 0.61, respectively. Mean PANSS-EC scores at endpoint (LOCF) was 7.4 ± 0.65 for the asenapine-treated subjects and 14.7 ± 0.98 for the placebo-treated subjects. Change in PANSS-EC score at 2 h was statistically significantly greater for the asenapine-treated subjects compared with the placebo-treated subjects. NNT for response vs. placebo was 3 (95% CI 2–4).


Sublingual asenapine was efficacious in the treatment of agitation with an effect size comparable to that observed in prior studies of intramuscular antipsychotics.