NPS RADAR reviews new medicines for schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, severe chronic pain and COPD

2 December 2011

The December issue of NPS RADAR — which independently reviews new medicines recommended for listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) — includes in-depth reviews of new medicines to treat schizophrenia, bipolar I, severe chronic pain, COPD and acute coronary syndrome.

Asenapine (brand name Saphris), a new antipsychotic medicine to treat schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder, is reviewed in this edition of NPS RADAR. Asenapine could be a better fit for a person with unacceptable weight gain or hyperprolactinaemia from other antipsychotics. However, this sublingual medicine is ineffective if swallowed and has a higher incidence of extrapyramidal side effects than that with olanzapine.

This issue of RADAR also includes the following reviews:

Oxycodone-with-naloxone controlled-release tablets (Targin) for severe chronic pain

Oxycodone-with-naloxone controlled-release (CR) tablets contain a combination of strong opioid and an opioid antagonist in a controlled release formulation. The tablets are PBS listed for severe pain unresponsive to non-opioid analgesia.

Indacaterol (Onbrez) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Indacaterol is another inhaled long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA) bronchodilator for COPD. It should be used with caution in people with cardiovascular disease and must not be used to treat asthma.

Ticagrelor (Brilinta) for acute coronary syndrome

Ticagrelor is an oral antiplatelet drug TGA-indicated for treating acute coronary syndrome in combination with aspirin. In clinical trials it reduced the incidence of vascular deaths and myocardial infarctions although it did not reduce the risk of stroke and some adverse events such as non-coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) bleeding and dyspnoea. Safety and efficacy beyond 12 months are yet to be established.

Brief information on the following news items and PBS listing changes are also included in this edition of NPS RADAR

  • Buprenorphine with naxloxone (Suboxone Sublingual Film) for opiate dependence
  • Drugs for Alzheimer’s disease: PBS criteria no longer include referral to specialist
  • Generic losartan (Cozavan) PBS listed for hypertension
  • Budesonide with eformoterol (Symbicort Turbuhaler) for asthma and COPD
  • Long-acting intramuscular injectable form of paliperidone (Invega Sustenna) for schizophrenia
  • Dabigatran (Pradaxa) safety update: assess and monitor kidney function

To read the full reviews go to

NPS RADAR is a timely, independent publication published by NPS providing the latest evidence-based assessments of new drugs, PBS listings and the latest research for GPs, pharmacists and other health professionals.

To learn how to evaluate the evidence, the free NPS online learning program Finding Evidence – Recognising Hype teaches critical appraisal and other skills.


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests.We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.