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Tardive dyskinesia update: treatment and management

  • David Cunningham Owens (a1)


The development of rational treatments for tardive dyskinesia has been held back by limitations to our understanding of its aetiology, which even now does not extend far beyond its association with centrally acting dopamine-blocking drugs. This article reviews briefly the major aetiological theories and addresses general management and specific treatment options. Primary prevention and early recognition remain the crucial management issues because, once the condition is established, there are no satisfactory treatments. The article considers two newly developed drugs, valbenazine and deutetrabenazine, in some detail as, although they are not yet licensed in Europe, they have largely been responsible for an upsurge in interest in tardive dyskinesia in the North American literature and are likely to be widely promoted in the future. Although possessed of undoubted benefits, the evidence suggests that these represent small steps rather than large leaps forward in treatment.


  • Be able to discuss the major aetiological theories on the causation of a common, and sometimes serious, adverse action of antidopaminergic drugs
  • Understand general management and specific treatment options
  • Understand the pharmacology and efficacy of two drugs recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of tardive dyskinesia


D.C.O. is psychiatric commissioner on the Commission on Human Medicines, the UK drug regulator, and chair of its expert advisory group on CNS drugs. He is also a member of the psychiatry Scientific Advisory Group of the European Medicines Agency.


Corresponding author

Correspondence Professor David Cunningham Owens, University Division of Psychiatry, Kennedy Tower, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 5HF, UK. Email:


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For a companion article, see Owens DC (2018) Tardive dyskinesia: an update 1: the syndrome. BJP Advances, 25: 57–69.



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Tardive dyskinesia update: treatment and management

  • David Cunningham Owens (a1)


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Tardive dyskinesia update: treatment and management

  • David Cunningham Owens (a1)
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