Objective:  To describe the efficacy and safety of lurasidone for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Data sources:  The pivotal registration trials were accessed by querying the literature databases PubMed, EMBASE, ISI Web of Knowledge, as well as and for the search term ‘lurasidone’. Product labelling provided additional information.

Study selection:  All available clinical reports of studies were identified.

Data extraction:  Descriptions of the principal results and calculation of number needed to treat (NNT) and number needed to harm (NNH) for relevant dichotomous outcomes were extracted from the available study reports, abstracts and posters. Additional safety outcomes subject to NNH analysis were obtained from product labelling.

Data synthesis:  Lurasidone is a second-generation antipsychotic approved for the treatment of schizophrenia at a recommended starting dose of 40 mg/day administered once daily with food (≥ 350 calories). The maximum recommended dose is 80 mg/day. Regulatory approval was based primarily on a clinical trial programme that included four 6-week randomised clinical trials demonstrating efficacy vs. placebo in acute patients with schizophrenia. One additional Phase II clinical trial was considered a failed study because neither lurasidone nor the active control, haloperidol, separated from placebo on the primary outcome measure. One additional Phase III study was completed after the new drug application was submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration. Efficacy outcomes appear consistently in favour of lurasidone 80 mg/day vs. placebo on multiple measures of psychopathology, however, at least two studies also demonstrated efficacy for the doses of 40 and 120 mg/day. NNT vs. placebo was 3–6 for response as defined by ≥ 20% reduction in psychopathological rating scale total scores from baseline, depending on the study and the dose. Response as defined by a ≥ 30% improvement yielded NNTs ranging from 7 to 13. The most common adverse events in the clinical trials were somnolence (broadly defined), akathisia, nausea, parkinsonism and agitation. As estimated from product labelling, NNH vs. placebo was dose dependent for somnolence, with a NNH of 6 for lurasidone 120 mg/day, compared with NNHs of 8, 11 and 20, for 80, 40 and 20 mg/day, respectively. For akathisia NNH was 6 for lurasidone 120 mg/day, compared to NNHs of 9, 13 and 34 for 80, 40 and 20 mg/day, respectively. Lurasidone is associated with minimal weight gain and no clinically meaningful alterations in glucose, lipids, prolactin or the ECG QT interval.

Conclusions:  Lurasidone 40 and 80 mg/day appear efficacious and tolerable in the treatment of schizophrenia. Doses above 80 mg/day do not appear to confer added benefit and may be associated with a dose-related increase in certain adverse reactions. Principal advantages over some other second-generation antipsychotics are lurasidone’s highly favourable metabolic profile and once-daily dosing regimen. Additional data regarding long-term efficacy and effectiveness will help characterise this new agent when used in maintenance treatment.