I have just suffered 6 weeks of withdrawal from the anti-depressant Pristiq, which had been prescribed by my doctor and was available on the PBS. For most of this period I found that it was impossible to work and, for 4 weeks, impossible to drive.
I have done the limited research into the drug possible via the internet and find that it was initially developed by Pfizer/Wyeth as an alternative to HRT in the treatment of hot flushes. It was subsequently promoted it as an anti-depressant to replace their anti-depressant Effexor, whose license had run out, and was licensed in the USA and other countries (but not Europe).
In November 2012 Wyeth's shareholders completed a successful class action against the company. Background information drawn from an earlier Reuters article about the class action:
"Wyeth shares lost more than $7.6 billion of market value on July 24, 2007 after the company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would not approve Pristiq to treat "hot flashes" in post-menopausal women until it received information about potential serious heart and liver problems associated with use of the drug.
Shareholders said Wyeth should have revealed adverse effects associated with Pristiq sooner, and that its failure to do so caused its stock price to be inflated during the June 26, 2006 to July 24, 2007 class period. Pfizer bought Wyeth in 2009.
Pristiq generated $309 million of sales from January to June for New York-based Pfizer, falling short of the "multi-billion dollar potential" that Wyeth Chief Executive Robert Essner had in October 2006 said the drug might have.
Analysts once hoped the drug, whose chemical name is desvenlafaxine, could generate more than $2 billion of annual sales, and help Wyeth withstand the 2010 loss of patent protection for its anti-depression drug Effexor.
Essner and several other former Wyeth officials are also defendants in the case.
Sullivan said the shareholders had shown they had relied on Wyeth's alleged misrepresentations, and considered Pristiq particularly important to Wyeth's overall business.
"Under the facts currently before it, including Wyeth's drug pipeline and the looming expiration of patents concerning other Wyeth drugs, the court concludes that the plaintiffs have sufficiently demonstrated the materiality of the allegedly omitted information," Sullivan wrote." Reuters Sept 18 2012
I am attempting to follow through on this drug as I have the belief, shared by other ex-users, that it has limited benefit as an anti-depressant, a nasty range of side-effects, the worst of which was brain-dulling plus almost total loss of libido, and is so designed that it is virtually impossible to 'tail off', due to its enteric coating and lack of strengths below the standard dose of 50mg. The withdrawal symptoms that I have heard about are very nasty indeed (diarrhoea, memory loss, insomnia, flashes of extreme agression - I got that one and it was truly horrible - very real suicidal impulses, nightmares that feel like hallucinations, etc etc).
I believe that it should be removed from the PBS, thus saving other Australains from similar experiences to my own.
Easily accessable references are:
Googling Pristiq withdrawal unearths a whole world of pain out there.