This article reviews the history, nosology, clinical features, epidemiology, and treatment of tardive syndromes.
The major advance in the field of tardive syndromes has been the development and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of two vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 inhibitors, valbenazine and deutetrabenazine, for treating tardive syndromes. These medications are derivatives of tetrabenazine and reduce dyskinetic movements by reducing dopamine stimulation. Treatment is not curative, and the medications reduce, or “mask,” symptoms but presumably without adding to the long-term risk of increased involuntary movements believed to accrue from suppressive treatment with dopamine receptor–blocking drugs. A confounding advance has been the accumulation of data finding that second-generation antipsychotics, also known as atypical antipsychotics, may not be safer than first-generation antipsychotics in causing tardive syndromes. The public health risk of tardive syndromes may actually have increased as some second-generation antipsychotics, widely promoted to both doctors and patients, are increasingly used as antidepressants.
Tardive syndromes remain a public health risk. Second-generation antipsychotics have not been proven to have less risk than first-generation drugs in causing tardive syndromes and are nevertheless being used more widely to treat depression, bipolar disease, and insomnia. Symptomatic treatment for tardive syndromes is available, although expensive.