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What is Serzone®?

Dorothy Bland
Dorothy Bland

Serzone® is registered name for nefazodone, a medication previously prescribed to treat mental depression. The brand name version of the drug was marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), a pharmaceutical company headquartered in the United States. Nefazodone works to treat depression by acting on the brain, working to alter unbalanced chemical levels and restore mental balance. The drug has been prescribed to treat various forms of depression, including major depression and dysthmia, a less severe form of chronic depression. The drug might also be prescribed for off-label purposes at the discretion of the prescribing physician.

Nefazodone is taken orally in tablet form. Dosages available usually range from 50 to 250 milligrams per tablet. The dosage of Serzone® given can differ depending on the severity of the depression in the patient and the length of time in which the medication is taken. Generally, however, beginning dosages of 200 milligrams, taken twice a day, with or without food, are recommended.

Woman with a headache
Woman with a headache

Adverse reactions have been reported with Serzone® and other medications designed to treat depression. To avoid this complication, patients will likely be prompted to discuss all other prescription and over-the-counter medications they are taking with their caregiver before the drug is prescribed. Nefazodone can interact negatively with certain other medications, including triazolam, a medication used to treat insomnia. Combining nefazodone with this medication could lead to serious harmful interactions, including heart damage. Those with certain medical conditions such as kidney disease and high blood pressure might also not be considered suitable candidates for taking Serzone®.

Common symptoms that have been experienced while taking the medication include constipation, blurred vision, and dry mouth. If serious side effects such as fever, difficulties with speech, and breathing problems occur, patients are generally cautioned to call their doctors immediately or seek out emergency services. Unlike some other depressive medications, however, nefazodone is not as likely to cause sleep disturbances or have a negative effect on the libido. The drug may, however, increase the occurrence of suicidal thoughts in some; patients are generally regularly monitored to check for this risk.

After taking Serzone®, depression is unlikely to begin subsiding immediately. Most users will have to wait for several weeks before their symptoms of depression, such as sadness, fatigue and disinterest in daily activities, begin to fully fade. Treatment with the product may be recommended for six months or longer depending on the needs of the patient and his or her response to the drug. Users prescribed the generic version of Serzone® are typically warned not to discontinue taking the antidepressant without first speaking to their doctor. Usually, the dosage is gradually lowered to avoid increased sensitivity to side effects or a return of depression.

In 2004, BMS announced that it would be pulling Serzone® from the United States market due to declining sales. The product, however, had already been discontinued in a number of other countries over concerns that users could develop hepatotxicity, or serious liver problems. Although the risk of developing hepatotxicity in patients was not a common side effect, there appeared to be no way of knowing which patients would suffer hepatotxicity. Serious liver trouble may also have led to liver failure in some patients, possibly resulting in the need for a liver transplant or death. Currently, generic versions of nefazodone may still be available in the United States and in some other locations.

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