Effexor is a brand name of venlafaxine, which is used to treat depression. Effexor XR or venlafaxine hydrochloride and an extended release capsules is used to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder or GAD, and social anxiety disorder or SAD. Effexor is produced by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc and was given approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993.
Effexor is a prescription drug which is taken orally and with food. Effexor has to be taken whole, without chewing or crushing it. However, you may open the capsule, sprinkle contents on a spoonful of applesauce, take it orally without chewing it and with one glass of water.
FDA Alert About Effexor
US FDA made a warning about a life-threatening condition known as serotonin syndrome can happen when medicines Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors or SNRIs like Effexor and medicines 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists or triptans are taken simultaneously. The following are symptoms of serotonin syndrome:
- Overactive reflexes
- Fast heartbeat
- Quick changes in blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
Effexor and its High Risks of Suicidality
FDA released a public health advisory requesting all antidepressant drug manufacturers’ in October 2004, to modify the labeling of their products and include boxed warning statements that alerted the healthcare professionals to higher risks of suicidality, a condition characterized by suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents when using these drugs. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc, the manufacturer of Effexor placed a black box warning to Effexor providing the information as a response to the FDA advisory.
Then, in June 2005, FDA declared that many scientific publications recommended the probability of greater risks for suicidal behavior in adults who are taking antidepressant medicines, including Effexor. FDA then advised that adults who are taking antidepressants, especially those being treated for depression, should be monitored closely for any worsening depression, and increased suicidality. Checking on these patients is vital when the treatment starts, and when the dosage were increased or reduced. FDA is also working closely with antidepressant producers to completely assess the risks of suicidality in adults who are treated with this procedure.
Who should not take Effexor?
Refrain from taking Effexor if you are taking another antidepressant drug called Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor or MAOI, or if you have discontinued taking MAOI within the last 14 days. Taking Effexor and MAOI within close period may lead to severe and even fatal reactions which include:
- Seizures or convulsions
- Increased body temperature
Some MAOI drugs are as follows:
- Parnate (tranylcypromine sulfate)
- Nardil (phenelzine sulfate)
- Marplan (isocarboxazid)
Health Risks from Taking Effexor
Watch out for these health risks associated with Effexor use:
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Mania, a condition characterized by unusual hyperactivity, excitable, or highly elation
- Hypertension or fast heartbeat
- Seizures or convulsions
- Weight loss
- Bleeding problems
- There may be problems if you are or planning to be pregnant; babies born from mothers who are taking Effexor during their late pregnancy period will likely to develop problems such as difficulty in breathing and feeding
- Sexual problems including impotence or erectile dysfunction, abnormal ejaculation, difficulty in reaching orgasm, or reduced libido or sexual desire.
Other side effects of Effexor are as follows:
- Sleepiness or difficulty in sleeping
- Dry mouth
Do not discontinue taking Effexor because it may lead to harmful side effects. Your healthcare provider will gradually reduce your dosage.
What should I tell the healthcare provider?
Notify your healthcare provider about all medical conditions you have suffered, particularly if you have liver and kidney or heart illness, or glaucoma. Inform your healthcare provider also when you are breastfeeding or your plan to breastfeed your baby.
Can other Medicines or Foods Affect Effexor?
Effexor and several medicines have the ability to interact with one another. Inform your healthcare provider about the medicines you took or are taking including the prescription and non-prescription medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins.
In the incidence of the FDA alert in July 206, there is truly need to discuss with your healthcare provider about taking Effexor and triptan drugs simulataneously. If you have to take Effexor and triptan together, you must know the risks for getting the serotonin syndrome. Seek for medical attention immediately if you feel you have serotonin syndrome.
If you are planning to drink alcohol while on Effexor medication, discuss this thoroughly with your healthcare provider.
Obtaining Legal Help
Since we know for a fact that all medication have its own side effects, a drug manufacturer has its obligation to manufacture products that are safe for human consumption and to notify the medical community and the general public of the risks associated with Effexor. However, if the drug manufacturer fails in these obligations, they can be held legally liable if the patients are injured as the consequence of insufficient warnings or the hazardous nature of the drug, under a legal theory called as “product liability.”
If you or any of your family member have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above caused by using the Effexor, you must contact your doctor or healthcare provider. Then, you may look for an experienced lawyer to discuss about some legal options and protect your rights to a legal remedy for any injury which have been caused by the use of Effexor.