Pfizer's Pristiq Shows Low Potential for Sexual Dysfunction in Depressed Adults

Krystle Vermes

Pfizer's serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), has low potential for causing sexual dysfunction in patients with major depressive disorder.

A clinical study published on October 29, 2014, in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed that Pfizer’s serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), has low potential for causing sexual dysfunction in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).

“Sexual dysfunction is a common concern for patients treated with antidepressants,” noted lead study investigator Anita Clayton, interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia Health System, in a press release. “The low potential for sexual dysfunction with desvenlafaxine is encouraging, and physicians and patients would benefit from further study.”

The present phase 4 study included a total of 924 patients aged 18 years or older who randomly assigned to Pristiq 50 mg/day, Pristiq 100 mg/day, or daily placebo over an 8-week period. At the conclusion of the trial, the rates of sexual dysfunction were comparable between each PRISTIQ dose and placebo at baseline and week 8.

“The treatment and management of MDD in adults can be both complex and challenging for physicians and patients,” said Salomon Azoulay, global clinical and medical affairs head at Pfizer Global Established Pharma, in the press release. “As a science-based company, we continue to study Pristiq in order to provide clinicians with information that can help guide their treatment decisions and positive health outcomes for patients with MDD.”

The FDA approved Pristiq in 2008 for the treatment of MDD in adults. The recommended dose is 50 mg/day, with or without food.

Like any other SNRI, Pristiq may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior among children and young adult patients. Although the study did not show an increase in those risks with the treatment, those who receive any SNRI should be closely monitored.