Fluvoxamine (Luvox): Indications, Side Effects & Why was Luvox Taken off the Market

Fluvoxamine (Luvox): Indications, Side Effects & Why was Luvox Taken off the Market

Fluvoxamine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. The drug is approved for adults and children. However, why was Luvox taken off the market in the United States? Is it because of side effects, lack of effectiveness, or other concerns?

In the early 2000s, fluvoxamine was taken off the market in the United States because of concerns about its risk associated with violent behavior and suicidal thinking in children and teenagers. Thus, Columbine Massacre in 1999 investigation and press coverage led to its discontinuation.

It has also been associated with rare but serious liver failure. However, this was a precautionary measure based on an isolated case report; there was no evidence that using fluvoxamine led to more cases of liver damage than with other SSRIs.

Furthermore, numerous studies have found fluvoxamine to be as safe and effective as other SSRIs, particularly in people who cannot tolerate other medications or have failed treatment with them. Therefore, if you have been prescribed Luvox, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully while continuing to take this medication as directed.


What is Luvox?

Luvox is a drug that was originally manufactured by Solvay Pharmaceuticals. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. It is also used to treat anxiety in patients who cannot tolerate fluoxetine or other SSRIs.

The drug received US FDA approval in 1994 for the treatment of anxiety disorders and OCD. However, the drug was already in use in several countries since 1983.

Currently, fluvoxamine is only available as a generic drug since Luvox was discontinued in the early 2000s in the US. One of the major differences between Luxox and other SSRIs is that fluvoxamine does not have FDA approval for the treatment of depression.

How does Luvox work?

Fluvoxamine is an SSRI. Just like other SSRIs, fluvoxamine targets the nerve cells and inhibits their reabsorption of neurotransmitters specifically serotonin. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain and other body parts.

Neurotransmitters may be released from neurons in the brain after a stimulus, and are then reabsorbed by nearby neurons. This is how nerve cells communicate with each other.

These neurotransmitters can affect mood, sleep patterns, and behavior. When serotonin levels are low or when nerve cells release less serotonin than usual, the result is typically depression. The goal of SSRIs such as Celexa is to increase the amount of serotonin that your brain has available for communication between nerve cells.

When Serotonin reabsorption is inhibited in the brain, the available levels of serotonin in the brain increase. This causes the improved regulation of mood, sleep patterns, and behavior. Due to this, the body gets relief from anxiety symptoms.

Therefore, SSRIs are used for the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental disorders. However, fluvoxamine did not receive FDA approval for the treatment of depression.

Luvox indications

Luvox is indicated for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. It belongs to a class of medications called SSRIs, which stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Fluvoxamine works by helping the brain to regulate serotonin levels in the body, which can help reduce symptoms related to OCD and other mental disorders. Before you start taking Luvox, let your doctor know if you are currently taking any medication or supplements that may interact with it.

Some common drugs that may interact with Luvox include birth control pills; antipsychotics like quetiapine, haloperidol, risperidone, and thiothixene; beta-blockers like metoprolol, propranolol, and atenolol; cimetidine; erythromycin; ketoconazole; nefazodone; probenecid; ritonavir; ropinirole (Requip); venlafaxine (Effexor); verapamil.

Side Effects of Fluvoxamine

The most common side effects of fluvoxamine are:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • increased sweating
  • feeling nervous, restless, or fatigued.

These side effects in most instances improve over the first week or two as you continue to take the medication. Side effects may also include trouble sleeping (insomnia) and/or sexual dysfunction.

You need to talk to your doctor if the side effects become or are severe if they do not dissipate with time. There are no known problems when fluvoxamine is used in the long term as long as the medication is used as directed by the doctor. The medication is safe and effective to use.

Luvox effects on the brain

This type of medication works by slowing down the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. When there is too much serotonin in the brain, it can affect a person’s mood, which can lead to depression.

SSRIs work by blocking the neurotransmitter from being taken back up by a nerve cell after it has been released. This helps to keep more serotonin available for release and also makes it harder for the nerve cells to absorb more serotonin.

As you may know, when serotonin levels are low, some people experience anxiety or depression symptoms, which is why medications like Luvox are used as treatments.

Why was Luvox taken off the market?

In the 1990s, it came to light that some children who were taking Luvox developed psychosis, suicidal thoughts, and aggressive behavior. It was found that these side effects occurred more frequently in children who had a history of violent behavior and those with manic-depressive disorder.

In 1999, there was a massacre at Columbine High School. The two shooters had been taking fluvoxamine. This event led to many questions about the safety of this drug and the media coverage intensified when it was revealed that one of the perpetrators had been taking Luvox.

Due to this increased level of scrutiny, Luvox was taken off the market in the US and Canada for use in children and teenagers (ages 10-19) for violent behavior and suicidal thinking due to a lack of adequate warnings and restrictions on dosage strength.

Best time to take fluvoxamine

If you have drowsiness as a side effect and need to take Luvox in the morning, it is best to take it at night instead. To help prevent drowsiness, it is advisable to take fluvoxamine at night if this side effect does not bother you.

Some of the side effects of taking fluvoxamine at night include insomnia, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Taking fluvoxamine in the morning will prevent some of these side effects from happening.

Taking this drug in the morning may cause agitation, aggression, and restlessness as side effects. Additionally, there has been research linking this drug with suicidal ideation.

How does fluvoxamine make you feel?

The risk of developing side effects increases if you take these drugs at higher than recommended doses or for prolonged periods without consulting your doctor first. Side effects of this drug are not life-threatening so it is important to monitor how you feel while on the medication and let your doctor know about any concerns

Fluvoxamine can cause Luvox side effects such as agitation, irritability, and other abnormal behaviors. In some cases, the symptoms may be severe enough that you need to stop using the drug. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms after stopping the medication. Other Luvox side effects include suicidal thoughts.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best that you talk to your doctor right away: stomach pain or cramps, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea or constipation; change in appetite; weight changes; trouble sleeping; hallucinations; excessive sweating; shaking hands or feet; dry mouth; dizziness or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a sitting position; blurred vision.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Should I stop taking fluvoxamine? It’s important to speak with your doctor about stopping the medication because discontinuing this drug suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms like agitation, irritability, and other abnormal behaviors which could worsen existing conditions.

When withdrawing from fluvoxamine, it is safer to withdraw gradually under medical supervision rather than quickly stopping the drug on your own.


Fluvoxamine is a drug used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. This drug has its own set of risks and benefits.

As an SSRI, Luvox is effective in the management of mental disorders by increasing the available amount of neurotransmitter Serotonin. The medication, fluvoxamine, was taken off the market due to concerns about the suicidal thoughts and violent behaviors seen in the children and adolescents taking the medication.


What happened to Luvox?

Luvox is an antidepressant and has been taken off the market in some countries because it does not have a warning label for the risk of suicide and violent behavior such as the Columbine Massacre in 1999. The warning was added to the drug label because studies showed that people taking fluvoxamine had a higher incidence of suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and completed suicides than those taking other antidepressants.

How Is Luvox different from other SSRIs?

Luvox is different from other SSRIs because it is not approved by FDA for the treatment of depression. All other SSRIs are used for the management of anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders.

Is fluvoxamine good for anxiety?

Fluvoxamine is good for anxiety and has few long-term side effects. Studies such as the randomized, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled research that has been published indicate that Luvox is effective in the treatment of agoraphobia, panic disorder as well as OCD. It reduces the level of anxiety and minimizes the number of panic attacks.

Dr. David Barlow

David is a well-known researcher and author in the anxiety disorders area with extensive research on their etiology, nature, and treatment. He started the site to share his real-life experiences on the management of anxiety disorders with successful diagnosis and treatment being his motivation to write or review the content on this site.