"Depression is going through a challenging time," says Datamonitor analyst Ben Greenacre. "It's a mature market and reaching the patent cliff." Led by Prozac and Effexor, the market has been flooded with molecules that treat depression and anxiety by targeting two neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine. French pharma Servier took a very different approach with Valdoxan, a dual action molecule that combines a melanotergic receptor agonist and a 5HT2C antagonist, targeting the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline.
Already marketed in the EU, where uptake has been slow, its main selling points have been that it is fact-acting, free of the sexual side effects common to the serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, and a sleep promoter. But a recent analysis of pooled data from four head-to-head trials showed that Valdoxan beat Prozac and Effexor by a small but significant margin. With a growing need for boosters that jump-start a failing regimen, blockbuster sales are predicted for Valdoxan, according to Datamonitor.