Also Known As: Effexor, Venlafaxine, Efexor
Venlafaxine (brand name: Effexor or Efexor) is an antidepressant of the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) class. First introduced by Wyeth in 1993, now marketed by Pfizer, it is licensed for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, and comorbid indications in certain anxiety disorders with depression. In 2007, venlafaxine was the sixth most commonly prescribed antidepressant on the U.S. retail market, with 17.2 million prescriptions.
Multiple double blind studies show venlafaxine's effectiveness in treating depression. Venlafaxine has similar efficacy to the tricyclic antidepressants amitriptyline (Elavil) and imipramine, and is better tolerated than amitriptyline. Its efficacy is similar to or better than sertraline (Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac), depending on the criteria and rating scales used. Higher doses of venlafaxine are more effective, and more patients achieved remission or were "very much improved". The efficacy was similar if the number of patients who achieved "response" or were "improved" was considered. A meta-analysis comparing venlafaxine and combined groups of SSRI or tricyclic antidepressants showed venlafaxine's superiority. Judged by the same criteria, venlafaxine was similar in efficacy to the atypical antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin); however, the remission rate was significantly lower for venlafaxine. In a double-blind study, patients who did not respond to an SSRI were switched to venlafaxine or citalopram. Similar improvement was observed in both groups.