Venlafaxine: Enlafax XR 2017 brand change

The 2017 brand change of venlafaxine was reviewed by Medsafe advisory committees and the Health Select Committee.

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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