Desvenlafaxine useful for vasomotor symptoms of menopause

Desvenlafaxine, also known by the trade name Pristiq, is a safe and effective treatment for hot flashes in postmenopausal women, according to a report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Desvenlafaxine belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, which are used to treat depression.

While hormone therapy is the most effective treatment for hot flashes and night sweats, there remains a need for safe and effective non-hormonal agents, Dr. David F. Archer, from Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, and colleagues note. Prior research has suggested that desvenlafaxine may be such an agent.

In the present study, 484 women with moderate-to-severe hot flashes and night sweats were randomly assigned to receive to different doses of desvenlafaxine or placebo over a 26-week period. Of these subjects, 81.2 percent completed 12 weeks of therapy and 76.0 percent completed 26 weeks. Standard questionnaires were used to assess hot flash frequency and severity.

At both doses desvenlafaxine was better than placebo at reducing hot flash severity at 12 weeks. By 26 weeks, however, only the higher dose was more efficacious than placebo. Both doses effectively reduced hot flash-related nighttime awakenings.

Overall, 28.5 percent of desvenlafaxine-treated patients discontinued treatment due to adverse events compared with 8.9 percent of those given placebo. Nausea was the most common side effect in the desvenlafaxine group, reported by 44.6 percent of users versus 8.3 percent of patients given placebo.

The results indicate that desvenlafaxine is an effective and generally safe and well-tolerated treatment for reducing the frequency and severity of hot flushes in postmenopausal women, the authors conclude.

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, March 2009.

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