Fluvoxamine (sold as Luvox®, Faverin® and Fevarin®) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It is used primarily to treat depression, anxiety and OCD. more...
Although its effects are similar to other SSRIs, it acts on the body's neurochemistry differently. For this reason, fluvoxamine can be of benefit to patients who experience unusual or limiting side-effects from other antidepressants. Fluvoxamine also appears to cause fewer side-effects than other SSRIs, particularly in relation to loss of sex-drive.
Fluvoxamine has the shortest half-life of all the SSRIs. Its mean serum half-life is 15 hours after a single dose, and 17 to 22 hours after repeated doses.
Fluvoxamine causes many drug-drug interactions due to inhibition of metabolism mediated by several cytochrome P450 oxidases. Examples of substances that have higher serum levels when administered together with fluvoxamine include caffeine, clozapine, olanzapine, tricyclic antidepressants, diazepam, alprazolam, propranolol, warfarin and methadone.
For depression and anxiety, dosage normally starts at 50 milligrams per day, rising to 100 milligrams after a few days. It may be raised after evaluation of the effects by a doctor.
Fluvoxamine is generally only effective for OCD at 150 milligrams and above, and dosages can reach 300 milligrams or more for some patients.
In 1999, fluvoxamine came under great public scrutiny after it was discovered that Eric Harris, one of the two teenaged shooters involved in the Columbine High School massacre, had been taking the drug as treatment for depression. Many immediately pointed fingers at fluvoxamine and its manufacturer Solvay Pharmaceuticals (which sells fluvoxamine under the widely known brandname Luvox), since Solvay's own clinical trials indicated the drug had the propensity to induce "mania" in 4% of the youth who took it. Solvay, while acknowledging the risks inherent in taking an SSRI medication like fluvoxamine, downplayed any role the drug may have had in the killings. The American Psychiatric Association (A.P.A.) took a similar stance; Rodrigo Munoz, M.D., President of the A.P.A., said: "Despite a decade of research, there is little valid evidence to prove a causal relationship between the use of anti-depressant medications and destructive behavior. On the other hand, there is ample evidence that undiagnosed and untreated mental illness exacts a heavy toll on those who suffer from these disorders as well as those around them." It was also pointed out by many that Luvox was often safer than the other SSRI medications available--for example, fluoxetine (Prozac) caused mania in 6% of youth tested on the drug (versus fluvoxamine's 4%). Nonetheless, the reputation of Luvox was irreparably damaged. Sales fell, and Solvay withdrew the medication from the U.S. market in 2002; the company maintains, however, that this move had nothing to do with the safety profile of the fluvoxamine, which they still sell in many countries around the world. In the United States, fluvoxamine can only be purchased generically.
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