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Depression - Emsam (Selegiline) is the first ever Drug Patch treatment that is approved by FDA – Has no dietary restrictions in MAOI Drug Class

March 3rd, 2006

Depression - Emsam (Selegiline) is the first ever Drug Patch treatment that is approved by FDA – Has no dietary restrictions in MAOI Drug Class

Example of a Patch

Emsam (selegiline) is the first skin patch that can be prescribed for treatment of major depression.  The patch lasts for one day and delivers 6-12 milligrams (depending on the prescription) of the selegiline medicine through the patient’s skin.  Selegiline is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor or MAOI requires no change in the person’s diet if they are using the smaller 6 mg patch.  If they are using the larger 12 mg patch they may have to restrict their diet the same as any Oral MAOI.

"Emsam provides a significant advance because at least in its lowest dose patients can use the drug without the usual dietary restrictions associated with these types of drugs known as MAO inhibitors,“ said Dr. Steven Galson, Director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.


Bristol-Myers Squibb will be distributing Emsam which was developed by Somerset Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  Selegiline in pill form was originally approved for treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

With the oral MAO inhibitors a patient is not able to eat certain food because it could cause a sudden increase in blood pressure called a “hypertensive crisis”.  This crisis can be life threatening and cause stroke or death.  If a person has a hypertensive crisis they need to seek medical care right away. 


The patch at the lower dosage does not have any dietary restrictions.  There are dietary restrictions for the 12 mg dose however.  There is concern that the patch should not get excessive heat because the medication could go through the body faster than intended.

The possible side effect from using the Emsam patch is the area where the patch was could become red and irritated.  The irritation may be mild and itchy.  If this is the case, the patient should contact their doctor.  Possible light headedness can occur with a drop of blood pressure.  So make sure that you are sitting down when you first take the medication to avoid injury.

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