Nefazodone. A review of its pharmacology and clinical efficacy in the management of major depression
Davis R, Whittington R, Bryson HM
Adis International Limited,
Auckland, New Zealand.
Drugs 1997 Apr; 53(4):608-36


Nefazodone hydrochloride is a phenylpiperazine antidepressant with a mechanism of action that is distinct from those of other currently available drugs. It potently and selectively blocks postsynaptic serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) 5-HT2A receptors and moderately inhibits serotonin and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) reuptake. In short term clinical trials of 6 or 8 weeks' duration, nefazodone produced clinical improvements that were significantly greater than those with placebo and similar to those achieved with imipramine, and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline. The optimum therapeutic dosage of nefazodone appears to be between 300 and 600 mg/day. Limited long term data suggest that nefazodone is effective in preventing relapse of depression in patients treated for up to 1 year. Analyses of pooled clinical trial results indicate that nefazodone and imipramine produces similar and significant improvements on anxiety- and agitation-related rating scales compared with placebo in patients with major depression. Short term tolerability data indicate that nefazodone has a lower incidence of adverse anticholinergic, antihistaminergic and adrenergic effects than imipramine. Compared with SSRIs, nefazodone causes fewer activating symptoms, adverse gastrointestinal effects (nausea, diarrhoea, anorexia) and adverse effects on sexual function, but is associated with more dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, visual disturbances and confusion. Available data also suggest that nefazodone is not associated with abnormal weight gain, seizures, priapism or significant sleep disruption, and appears to be relatively safe in overdosage. Nefazodone inhibits the cytochrome P450 3A4 isoenzyme and thus has the potential to interact with a number of drugs. Further long term and comparative studies will provide a more accurate assessment of the relative place of nefazodone in the management of major depression. Nonetheless, available data suggest that nefazodone is a worthwhile treatment alternative to tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs in patients with major depression.
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