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Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of Desvenlafaxine 50 mg/d for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials

Michael R. Liebowitz, MD, and Karen A. Tourian, MD

Published: June 24, 2010

Article Abstract

Objective: Desvenlafaxine is the third serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for major depressive disorder (MDD). This article summarizes data on the clinical pharmacology, efficacy, safety, and tolerability of desvenlafaxine (administered as desvenlafaxine succinate) for MDD with a focus on the 50-mg/d therapeutic dose. Additionally, the article discusses clinical practice considerations and future directions in desvenlafaxine research.

Data sources: Data relating to desvenlafaxine 50 mg/d were identified through searches of MEDLINE and publication databases of Pfizer for articles in English published before January 2009. Keywords were desvenlafaxine, Odesmethylvenlafaxine, ODV, and 50 mg.

Study selection: Three randomized, placebo- and/or active comparator-controlled, 8-week clinical trials reported the efficacy of desvenlafaxine 50 mg/d for the treatment of MDD. The third of these studies included a post hoc pooled analysis of data from all 3 of these trials. In addition, the search retrieved an article examining pooled data from 9 trials, including 50-mg data from 2 of the 3 retrieved trials.

Data synthesis: Desvenlafaxine is the major active metabolite of the SNRI venlafaxine. Significant improvements compared with placebo were observed on the primary efficacy measure (17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale total score) and most secondary measures in 2 of 3 clinical trials. An integrated analysis of registration data from 9 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 8-week studies of desvenlafaxine (50 to 400 mg/d) for MDD demonstrated no evidence of greater efficacy with doses higher than 50 mg/d. Safety results indicate that desvenlafaxine treatment is generally safe and well tolerated; findings were consistent with those for the SNRI class. The 50-mg/d dose of desvenlafaxine was associated with low rates of discontinuation due to treatment-emergent adverse events, which were similar to placebo.

Conclusions: Desvenlafaxine 50 mg/d has demonstrated efficacy, safety, and tolerability for the treatment of MDD in placebo-controlled trials. A long-term study is underway to further explore desvenlafaxine 50 mg/d for MDD.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2010;12(3):e1-e10

Submitted: June 3, 2009; accepted October 21, 2009.

Published online: June 24, 2010 (doi:10.4088/PCC.09r00845blu).

Corresponding author: Michael R. Liebowitz, MD, 134 East 93rd St, Ste 201B, New York, NY 10128 (

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