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Deanxit is dead!

Deanxit is dead! May it rest in peace!!

If you are one of those who had taken or has been taking the pink coloured tablet called Deanxit (Placida, Franxit) for your anxiety and depression; there is news for you. It has been suspended (banned) for sale and manufacture in India as of 18th June, 2013. These tablets contained 0.5 mg (only) of Flupentixol (an antipsychotic) and 10 mg of Melitracen. The latter though labeled as an antidepressant, is not used in USA, UK, Japan, Canada or Australia. (Neither is Deanxit licenced in these developed countries).

Denmark, (where Deanxit was manufactured and is thought to have been innovated by Lundbeck) does not allow either Deanxit or Melitracen to be sold. India too, had never approved Melitracen individually, but the company got approval for Deanxit by merely adding 0.5 mg of Flupentixol and marketing it as a novel treatment for Anxiety and Depression.

Surprisingly, this 50 crore product (in terms of sale) had never been tested in India and had yet been unlawfully granted approval in 1998. This ban is actually a reversal of that unlawful step and does not necessarily mean that Deanxit was harmful if taken for mental health problems. Unfortunately, when the company was asked to provide evidence of Deanxit’s safety and usefulness, it did not/could not do so. This added to the apprehension that there was either no data or there was evidence that it was harmful.

The lack of a structured pharmacovigilance program such as has been functioning in the developed countries further complicates any such evaluation. If you had benefited from Denaxit or if you had some side effects, this is known only to you and/or to the doctor who you told; but there is no central repository of information about the experience of Indian users of any medicine.

What are the alternatives? You can either go back to your local doctor for a prescription of an equally untested, uncharted medicine or you can go to see a Good Psychiatrist and discuss your diagnosis. If you have Depression, you need adequate treatment for it. Deanxit or its replacements do not and would not have completely treated you. These mixtures of antidepressants and anxiolytics are an irrational response of a physician who does not know what Depression is and is merely responding to your symptom of anxiety!

Psychiatrists see a number of such patients with half treated mental health problems which have festered over the years and have now been struck down with an exacerbation that does not respond to anxiolytics or antidepressants quickly. I tell my patients that medicines like Deanxit have helped allow Depression to get better, stronger, and wicked! It takes us 6-8 months to breakthrough the entrenched disease and lead to some respite.

THAT is exactly what I feel is wrong with medicines like Deanxit and others. The omission (of prescribing a better drug) that Deanxit’s presence allowed, wrecked more lives emotionally than the direct harm caused to a person taking it. The same applies to benzos like alprazolam, clonazepam and diazepam. In a country where medicines are available like toffees (on demand, without prescription) from chemist shops, patients continue to take these pills, for years, smug with the belief that they are well. When Depression worsens it is difficult for them to accept that they ever had any problem. They seek immediate relief from anxiety, the same relief which they had for so many years. Alas, they do not realize, that the ‘relief’ that they had was actually postponing the inevitable.

Depression does not end when symptoms go away; it ends only when proper treatment has been taken for months and sometimes years. Deanxit’s end should be taken as an opportunity by you to get proper treatment of Depression and Anxiety.

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