venlafaxine, Effexor XR (Effexor has been discontinued in the US)

  • 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: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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GENERIC NAME: venlafaxine

BRAND NAME: Effexor XR

DISCONTINUED BRAND: Effexor, in the US

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Venlafaxine is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) used for treating depression. Other drugs in this class include milnacipran (Savella), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq). Venlafaxine affects neurotransmitters, the chemicals that nerves within the brain make and release in order to communicate with one another. Neurotransmitters either travel across the space between nerves, 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 as well as other psychiatric disorders. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters released by nerves in the brain. Venlafaxine 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 venlafaxine increases the effect of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Venlafaxine is available in an extended release formulation (Effexor XR). The FDA approved venlafaxine in December 1993.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Venlafaxine is prescribed for the treatment of depression, depression with associated symptoms of anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2015

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