Extended-Release Venlafaxine May Help Childhood Anxiety

Two randomized trials suggest venlafaxine is safe, effective in short term

MONDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Extended-release venlafaxine may be an effective and well-tolerated option for the short-term treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in children and adolescents, according to the results from two randomized trials that appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Moira A. Rynn, M.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, and colleagues conducted two randomized trials at 59 sites in 2000 and 2001. Study participants were aged 6 to 17 and received a flexible dose of venlafaxine or placebo for eight weeks.

In a pooled analysis of both studies, participants who took venlafaxine showed greater improvements in a composite score based on nine items from a standard tool used to assess anxiety in school-aged children than their counterparts who received placebo, -17.4 versus -12.7, respectively. More participants taking venlafaxine responded to therapy, compared to placebo, the report indicates.

Adverse events included asthenia, anorexia, pain and somnolence. Participants taking the extended-release venlafaxine also showed changes in their height, weight, blood pressure, pulse and cholesterol levels. Still "clinicians should always be alert to signs of suicidal ideation in pediatric patients when extended-release venlafaxine is prescribed," the authors write.

This study was funded by Wyeth Research. Several authors are employed by or serve as consultants for various pharmaceutical firms.

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