What is Luvox?

Luvox (fluvoxamine maleate) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) marketed jointly by Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and the Upjohn Company. Luvox was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1993 for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a biological illness involving an imbalance of a brain chemical.

What does Luvox treat?

Luvox has been shown to effectively reduce the symptoms associated with OCD, an anxiety disorder affecting an estimated five million Americans. OCD is characterized by obsessions (unwanted, recurrent and disturbing thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform in order to lessen the anxiety produced by the obsessions).

How does Luvox work?

Current theories indicate that OCD is a biological illness involving an imbalance of a naturally occurring brain chemical called serotonin, which sends impulses from one nerve cell to another. It is this serotonin imbalance that is linked to OCD. Luvox works by improving this imbalance and reducing the obsessions and compulsions associated with OCD.

Who can benefit from Luvox?

Physicians and the millions of Americans with OCD have, with Luvox, a new option in drug treatment. Patients who have not benefitted previously from medication may respond to Luvox.

Studies show that Luvox is effective for elderly patients as well as young persons. The safety and effectiveness of Luvox have not been established for those under 18 years of age. Luvox should be used cautiously in patients with a history of mania and/or seizures. Nursing mothers and women who become pregnant during therapy with Luvox should consult a physician about continuing treatment.

A recent nationwide survey of more than 1,000 adults found that over half of the respondents were not aware that medications exist to treat OCD. Luvox represents another pharmacotherapy option in therapy that may help to clear up this misperception and increase the number of people being successfully treated for OCD.

What is the standard dose of Luvox?

Luvox is available by prescription and comes in 50 mg and 100 mg tablets. The recommended starting dose is 50 mg, taken as a single daily dose at bedtime. The dosage may be increased in 50 mg increments every four to seven days until maximum therapeutic benefit is achieved. The dosage should never exceed 300 mg/day. For doses over 100 mg/day, it is recommended that Luvox be given in divided doses. If the doses are unequal, the larger dose should be given at bedtime. Try to be patient the first few weeks of treatment. Improvement may occur only after several weeks or months.

It may be necessary for physicians to modify the initial dose and subsequent dosage increases for older patients.

Can I take Luvox with other medications?

There are several medications that should not be taken in combination with Luvox. These medications include the prescription antihistamines Seldane and Hismanal as well as any MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) medication, such as Parnate, Nardil, or Marplan. Patients should notify their physicians if they are taking or plan to take any other medications with Luvox because there is a potential for harmful interactions.

It is also advisable to avoid alcohol while undergoing treatment with Luvox.

What are the side effects of Luvox?

As with any medication, there are some side effects associated with Luvox in certain individuals. The most commonly observed side effects include insomnia, sleepiness, nausea, weakness, sexual dysfunction, nervousness, dry mouth, and constipation. Also, caution should be taken by patients who drive or operate machinery because Luvox may impair judgment, thinking, or motor skills.

How long should I stay on Luvox?

The effectiveness of Luvox for long-term use has not been studied extensively. Therefore, patients taking this drug for extended periods of time should be monitored closely by a physician and re-evaluated over time.

Reviewed by Dale R. Grothe, Pharm.D., Clinical Psychopharmacology Research, NIMH (June 1997)