desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What is desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Desvenlafaxine is an oral drug that is used for treating depression. It is in a class of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI); a class that also contains venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta). (Desvenlafaxine is an active metabolite of venlafaxine, that is, it is a product of venlafaxine that is manufactured by the body from venlafaxine.) Desvenlafaxine affects neurotransmitters, the chemicals that nerves within the brain make and release in order to communicate with each other. Neurotransmitters either travel across the space between nerves and attach to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or they attach to receptors on the surface of the nerves that produced them, to be taken up by the nerve and released again (a process referred to as re-uptake).

Many experts believe that an imbalance among neurotransmitters is the cause of depression. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters released by nerves in the brain. Desvenlafaxine works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin and epinephrine by nerves after they have been released. Since uptake is an important mechanism for removing released neurotransmitters and terminating their actions on adjacent nerves, the reduced uptake caused by desvenlafaxine increases the effect of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. The FDA approved desvenlafaxine in February 2008.

What brand names are available for desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)?

Pristiq, Khedezla

Is desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)?

Yes

What are the side effects of desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)?

Desvenlafaxine can cause nausea, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, drowsiness, constipation, weakness, dry mouth, sweating, diarrhea,  and loss of appetite. Increased blood pressure can occur and should be monitored. Seizures have been reported. Sexual dysfunction (decreased sex drive and delayed orgasm and ejaculation) has been associated with desvenlafaxine. Desvenlafaxine and other SNRIs may increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Some patients may experience withdrawal reactions upon stopping desvenlafaxine. Symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, nausea, nervousness, and insomnia. The dose of desvenlafaxine should be gradually reduced when therapy is discontinued to prevent symptoms of withdrawal.

Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of desvenlafaxine or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.

Quick GuidePhysical Symptoms of Depression in Pictures

Physical Symptoms of Depression in Pictures
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

RxList Logo

Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors