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Fluvoxamine (Luvox) is an antidepressant which functions as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and is predominantly used to treat obsessive–compulsive disorder.


Fluvoxamine was one of the first of the SSRI antidepressants to be launched (1984, in Switzerland) and was developed by Solvay Pharmaceuticals. It was launched in the US in December 1994 and in Japan in June 1999. As of the end of 1995, more than 10 million patients worldwide have been treated with fluvoxamine.

In 1999, fluvoxamine came under great public scrutiny after it was discovered that Eric Harris, one of the two teenage shooters involved in the Columbine High School massacremarker, had been taking the drug. Many immediately pointed fingers at fluvoxamine and its manufacturer Solvay Pharmaceuticals. Sales fell, and Solvay withdrew the medication from the U.S. market in 2002.

In 2007 Solvay re-introduced Luvox, which is now manufactured by Palo Alto, California-based Jazz Pharmaceuticals Inc. A generic version of Luvox is available from IVAX Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Fluvoxamine was the first SSRI to be registered for the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorder in children by FDA in 1997.

Fluvoxamine was the first drug approved for the treatment of social anxiety disorder in Japan in 2005.

On February 28, 2008, the US FDA approved a controlled-release formulation of fluvoxamine, to be marketed as Luvox CR.


Fluvoxamine is widely prescribed to treat major depression, and anxiety disorders such as obsessive–compulsive disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Phobia, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Fluvoxamine is indicated for children and adolescents with OCD.


Fluvoxamine is also used for the treatment of children and adolescents with social phobia, separation anxiety disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder.

Fluvoxamine may help in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Side effects

Common side effects of fluvoxamine are: nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, nervousness, feeling anxious, dry mouth, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, heart burn, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, pins and needles, abnormal taste, headache, faster heart beat, sweating, weight gain, weight loss or unusual bruising. Other side effects observed more frequently in children are: abnormal thoughts or behaviour, cough, increased period pain, nose bleeds, increased restlessness, infection and sinusitis.

Sexual side effects with fluvoxamine are rare, unlike other SSRIs.


Luvox 100 mg film-coated scored tablets (AU)
Fluvoxamine is one of the few SSRIs to have a monocyclic structure.


Fluvoxamine is a potent and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor with approximately 100-fold affinity for the serotonin transporter over the norepinephrine transporter. It has negligible affinity for the dopamine transporter or any other receptor, with the sole exception of the sigma-σ1 receptor. It behaves as a potent agonist at this receptor and has the highest affinity of any SSRI for doing so. This may contribute to its antidepressant and anxiolytic effects. Indeed, other SSRIs which also act as sigma-σ1 receptor agonists, such as sertraline and escitalopram (not verified but likely to be), display enhanced antidepressant efficacy. suggesting that it may have particular benefits in the treatment of depressed patients who show features of anxiety/stress and for whom memory impairment is particularly undesirable (such as in depressed elderly patients, and also in treating psychotic depression). In fact, the TCA opipramol, which is a selective sigma-σ1 receptor agonist, has considerable antidepressant and efficacy in its own right.



The oral absorption of fluvoxamine is equal to or more than 94%.


The plasma protein binding is only about 76%.


Fluvoxamine is strongly metabolized in the liver, mostly by the processes of oxidative demethylation(1) and deaminiation(2), which, respectively, create the three metabolites: fluvoxamine acid(by mechanism 1), it's N-acytylated analog(1), fluvoxethanol(2), of which only the first has been shown to have an affinity as a SERT inhibitor, roughly 100% - 200%, or 1-2 orders of magnitude, less potent than the active parent compound.

Radio-labeled administration of a dose of fluvoxamine produced nine identifiable metabolites, constituting 85% of the absorbed dosage. Of this base parent-metabolic percentage, 60% of the isolate was empirically proven to be fluvoxamine acid, and it's N-acytylated analog, 10% fluvoxethanol, logically deducible is that the additional 15% consisted of the remaining six identified metabolites of the parent compound.


Fluvoxamine has the shortest half-life of all SSRIs; its mean serum half-life is 15.6 hours.

Drug interactions

Fluvoxamine has a low potential for the drug interactions which are based on inhibition of enzyme Cytochrome P450 CYP2D6. Fluvoxamine shows the least interaction of the SSRIs, in regard to this specific enzyme.Naturally the other SSRIs which are metabolized by CYP2D6 will have more CYP2D6-based interactions with TCAs, antiarrhythmics, B-blockers, phenytoin, opiates (eg. codeine, dextromethorphan, morphine, tramadol) and neuroleptics (eg. haloperidol, risperidone).

Fluvoxamine does, however, inhibit cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP1A2, which metabolises Agomelatine, caffeine, clozapine, haloperidol, phenacetin, tacrine, theophylline, and olanzapine. These substances can cause increased serum levels when administered together with fluvoxamine. Of major concern is the fact that the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in tobacco smoke are potent inducers of CYP1A2 so that smokers may require significant modification of medication dosage. A recent warning has been published regarding potentially serious interaction with Tizanidine, based on CYP1A2 metabolism.

Fluvoxamine inhibits metabolism of diazepam and phenytoin via CYP2C19 and inhibits metabolism of aripiprazole, chlorpromazine, clozapine, haloperidol, olanzapine, perphenazine, risperidone, thioridazine and zuclopenthixol via CYP2D6 as well as inhibiting metabolism of aripiprazole, clozapine, haloperidol, quetiapine, risperidone and ziprasidone via CYP3A4.

The plasma protein binding of fluvoxamine is about 77%. Drugs with low protein binding are less likely to displace other protein bound drugs, and therefore have a lower potential to cause protein binding-related drug interactions.

Fluvoxamine also inhibits: CYP3A4, CYP2C9, and CYP2C19


  1. Consumer Medicine Information
  2. Consumer Medicine Information
  4. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, (2000). Fluvoxamine Maleate Tablets. Application Number: 75901, Retrieved July 28, 2008, from

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