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New option for treatment-resistant depression

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Exciting new option for people living with treatment-resistant depression

Wyeth New Zealand, provider of the antidepressant medicine Efexor®-XR (venlafaxine extended release), is pleased to announce that agreement has been reached with the New Zealand Government's funding agency, Pharmac, to make this treatment available to people with depression that has not responded to other therapies.

Efexor-XR acts on two different neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) thought to be implicated in depression, rather than just one pathway. Clinical studies have shown that people who have not responded to other therapies have a good chance of improvement, or even achieving remission from their symptoms.

"Depression is a complex illness that affects different people in different ways", Dr Michael Lee, Medical Director, Wyeth commented today. "Efexor-XR will offer NZ psychiatrists another option for treating depression and help tailor treatment to the individual needs of patients with treatment resistant depression.

"Pharmac has taken a significant step forward in the health of New Zealanders living with mental illness. "Having a new treatment available may enable eligible patients to return to work, reconnect with family and friends, and in general, resume a productive life. This is an important treatment goal for depressed patients, who at a vulnerable time in their lives, have often been unable to fund their treatment."

Doctors, people living with depression, and Wyeth New Zealand congratulate Pharmac on taking this important step, by making Efexor-XR available on the Pharmaceutical Schedule.

Efexor-XR is a prescription medicine, and a doctor must be consulted to determine if it is suitable for a particular person. It must be used strictly as directed, and if symptoms continue or side effects occur, a doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional should be consulted.

Efexor-XR is available as 75 mg and 150 mg capsules. It should not be taken by anyone who has an allergy to the active ingredient (venlafaxine), or who is currently taking or recently stopped taking (within 14 days) a monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressant. Blood pressure may be increased, and some forms of glaucoma worsened. Common side effects include dizziness, insomnia, nausea, sweating, and sexual dysfunction. Further information on precautions and side effects can be found in the accompanying Consumer Medicine Information; copies may be obtained by calling 0 800 447 400.

ENDS

Fully Funded - Pharmaceutical Schedule - on Special Authority (Full subsidy details are below) Normal doctor's visit fees apply. TAPS approval number: NA8606

Criteria for use Fully Funded - Pharmaceutical Schedule - on Special Authority Section B of the Pharmaceutical Schedule:

Special Authority - Retail Pharmacy a) subsidised only for " treatment resistant" depression.

b) Patients must have had a trial of two different anti-depressants and failed to respond to an adequate dose over an adequate period of time (usually at least 4 weeks) OR If the patient is currently a hospital in-patient as a result of an acute depressive episode, the patient must have had a trial of one other anti-depressant and failed to respond to an adequate dose over an adequate period of time.

c) Initial applications to be made by a psychiatrist. First prescription can be written by a psychiatrist or psychiatric registrar. Subsequent prescriptions may be written by a General Practitioner.

d) Reapplications to be made by any medical practitioner. Reapplications would be approved for those patients who have a high risk of relapse (prescriber determined).

e) Approvals are valid for two years.

Efexor-XR will also be listed in Part II of Section H of the Pharmaceutical Schedule.


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