Desvenlafaxine, a synthetic form of the major active metabolite of venlafaxine, is a new serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) available for the treatment of major depressive disorder.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a significant and increasing cause of impairment and disability, impacting on the individual and his or her social interactions. In any given year, almost 800,000 adults in Australia will experience a depressive illness – the third most common cause of illness among women and the tenth most common cause among men. In 2003 to 2004, depression was the fourth most frequently managed problem by general practitioners in Australia.
Despite improvements in treatment, depression remains an often chronic and recurring disorder with high rates of incomplete response to treatment. Beginning with the introduction of venlafaxine (Efexor-XR) in 1994, a new generation of antidepressants has emerged. These antidepressants have come to be classified as serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Venlafaxine has been shown to be least as effective as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of depression, although some evidence suggests a moderate superiority in efficacy.