Wyeth has become the latest pharmaceutical company to make a bid towards improving its public perception, and has launched a telephone helpline for patients taking its antidepressant Effexor XR (venlafaxine controlled-release).

The news follows a clamp down on the use of a broad spectrum of antidepressants in children and adolescents after they were linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviour [[18/10/04b]]. Just last month, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a second warning to highlight a possible link to suicide in adults, following the publication of several scientific papers alluding to the risk in patients taking antidepressants [[04/07/05b]].

Wyeth’s new patient support programme ‘Dialogues: Time to Talk’ is free to Effexor XR patients, and permits them access to basic information about depression and its treatment via a helpline manned by nurses. In addition, patients in some States will be eligible to receive a Dialogues card entitling them to discounts on prescription refills.