Venlafaxine: Enlafax XR 2017 brand change
Venlafaxine is used to treat depression and relieve abnormal anxiety (also known as generalised anxiety disorder).
Before 1 April 2017, there were two funded brands of venlafaxine, Arrow-Venlafaxine XR and Efexor XR. From 1 April 2017, Enlafax XR became funded along with the other two brands. There was a five-month transition period to allow time for people to transition from their previous brand to Enlafax XR and from 1 September 2017, Enlafax XR became the only funded brand.
Enlafax XR has the same active ingredient as the other brands and is delivered to the body in the same way. It is a Medsafe-approved medicine.
The response to the brand change
Some people felt that the new brand was not as effective as their original brand.
Medsafe has advisory committee's who provide expert advice on the safety and quality of medicines – the Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee (MARC) and the Medicines Assessment Advisory Committee (MAAC).
Both these committees conducted a review of the product information and the adverse report information that Medsafe had received for Enlafax XR. They found that the rise in adverse reaction reporting that accompanied the brand change was not caused by medicine safety or quality.
Heath Select Committee
The Health Select Committee is considering a petition about the venlafaxine brand change. The Select Committee held a hearing on the petition in 2019, but has yet to report on their findings.
Responses to Official Information Act requests
Below are published responses to Official Information Act requests PHARMAC has received regarding the venlafaxine brand change.
Timeline of PHARMAC's sole supply decision
PHARMAC's original brand change advice
The funded brand of venlafaxine is changing from Arrow-Venlafaxine XR and Efexor XR to Enlafax XR.
Your new brand is available from 1 April 2017
- From 1 April 2017 Enlafax XR will be fully funded and available for patients.
- From 1 June 2017 a part payment may be required for Arrow-Venlafaxine XR and Efexor XR.
- From 1 September 2017 only Enlafax XR will be fully funded. Arrow-Venlafaxine XR and Efexor XR will no longer be funded.
- From 1 December 2017 venlafaxine will be able to be dispensed all at once as a 3 month supply. If you want to stay with smaller quantities, then talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
- If you do want to keep using your current brand of venlafaxine, you can ask your pharmacist to check the price and availability. PHARMAC cannot guarantee the availability or price of Arrow-Venlafaxine XR or Efexor XR after 1 September 2017.
Enlafax XR works the same as the other brands
- Enlafax XR will work in the same way as Arrow-Venlafaxine XR and Efexor XR. Enlafax XR has the same active ingredient as the other brands and is delivered to the body in the same way. This means it will have the same effect as the other brands.
- Enlafax XR has been thoroughly evaluated by Medsafe to ensure it’s safe and works the same as the other brands.
- It’s understandable that you might have questions about changing your medicine but you shouldn’t notice any difference when you change to Enlafax XR. If you have any questions or concerns about changes to medicines, you should talk with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
- There’s more information about medicines and changes to medicines on PHARMAC’s website: The facts about generic and biosimilar medicines.
Your new brand comes in capsules
Are you taking Arrow-Venlafaxine XR 225 mg tablet?
Enlafax XR doesn’t come in a 225 mg strength. If you take this strength, you’ll need to change to take:
- three of the 75 mg capsules, or
- one 150 mg capsule and one 75 mg capsule - with this option there may be an extra co-payment.
Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to talk you through what you need to do if this affects you.
Your brand is changing to help us fund other medicines
A decision to change a medicine, especially one as important as venlafaxine, isn’t taken lightly. We’ve received expert advice about the appropriateness of making this change.
Our job is to make sure New Zealanders have access to the medicines they need. Making changes to medicines helps us achieve that by freeing up our limited budget to fund other medicines in the community.
Find out more
If you have any questions or concerns about changing brands, talk with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
You can also get more information from us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 66 00 50.
Healthcare professionals play an important role in supporting patients through changes to their medicines. We’d like to support you as you help your patients through the changes to venlafaxine.
We’ve prepared some material for you to share with people as they change brands.
Here are patient information leaflets that you can download and print.
Key points to tell your patients about Enlafax XR:
- Enlafax XR has the same active ingredient (venlafaxine) as the other brands. This means the new brand of medication is just as safe and works exactly the same as the old brand. They shouldn’t notice any difference in how it affects them.
- Enlafax XR comes in capsules and will look different from Arrow-Venlafaxine XR and Efexor XR - this will not affect how well the medicine works for them.
Two separate Ministerial Expert Advisory Groups have concluded that a rise in adverse reaction reporting to a commonly prescribed antidepressant is not caused by medicine safety or quality concerns.
The Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee (MARC) and the Medicines Assessment Advisory Committee (MAAC) made their assessments following a brand switch for the antidepressant: venlafaxine. Both Committees recognised the public concern about Enlafax described in the adverse reaction reports. The MARC were pleased to see that the new online reporting tool for consumers was making it easier for consumers to report their experiences. The Committee found these reports very valuable, allowing them to understand consumers experiences and concerns.
Last updated: 3 March 2020