Top: (1S,2R)-milnacipran (L-milnacipran)
Bottom: (1R,2S)-milnacipran (D-milnacipran)
Clinical data
Trade namesIxel, Joncia, Savella
  • AU: B3
Routes of
By mouth (tablets), capsules)
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Protein binding13%
Elimination half-life8 hours
  • (±)-(1R,2S)-rel-2-(Aminomethyl)-N,N-diethyl-1- phenylcyclopropane-1-carboxamide
CAS Number
PubChem CID
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass246.354 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
ChiralityRacemic mixture
  • O=C(N(CC)CC)[C@@]2(c1ccccc1)[C@@H](CN)C2
  • InChI=1S/C15H22N2O/c1-3-17(4-2)14(18)15(10-13(15)11-16)12-8-6-5-7-9-12/h5-9,13H,3-4,10-11,16H2,1-2H3/t13-,15+/m1/s1 checkY

Milnacipran (trade names Ixel, Savella, Dalcipran, Toledomin) is a serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) used in the clinical treatment of fibromyalgia. It is not approved for the clinical treatment of major depressive disorder in the US, but it is in other countries.

Medical uses


In a pooled analysis of 7 comparative trials with imipramine,[2] milnacipran and imipramine were shown to have comparable efficacy while milnacipran was significantly better tolerated. A pooled analysis of studies comparing milnacipran and SSRIs[3] concluded a superior efficacy for milnacipran with similar tolerability for milnacipran and SSRIs. A more recent meta-analysis of 6 studies involving more than 1,000 patients showed no distinction between milnacipran and SSRIs in efficacy or discontinuation rates, including discontinuation for side effects or lack of efficacy.[4] A meta-analysis of a total of 16 randomized controlled trials with more than 2200 patients[5] concluded that there were no statistically significant differences in efficacy, acceptability and tolerability when comparing milnacipran with other antidepressant agents. However, compared with TCAs, significantly fewer patients taking milnacipran dropped out due to adverse events. As with other antidepressants, 1 to 3 weeks may elapse before significant antidepressant action becomes clinically evident.


During its development for fibromyalgia, milnacipran was evaluated utilizing a composite responder approach. To be considered as a responder for the composite ‘treatment of fibromyalgia’ endpoint, each patient had to show concurrent and clinically meaningful improvements in pain, physical function, and global impression of disease status. A systematic review in 2015 showed moderate relief for a minority of people with fibromyalgia. Milnacipran was associated with increased adverse events when discontinuing use of the drug.[6]

Social anxiety

There is some evidence that milnacipran may be effective for social anxiety.[7]


Administration of milnacipran should be avoided in individuals with the following:

Administration of milnacipran should be done with caution in individuals with the following:

Milnacipran should not be used during pregnancy because it may cross the placenta barrier and no clinical data exists on harmful effects in humans and animal studies. Milnacipran is contraindicated during lactation because it is excreted in the milk, and it is not known if it is harmful to the newborn.

Side effects

The most frequently occurring adverse reactions (≥ 5% and greater than placebo) were nausea, headache, constipation, dizziness, insomnia, hot flush, hyperhydrosis, vomiting, palpitations, heart rate increase, dry mouth, and hypertension [FDA Savella prescribing information]. Milnacipran can have a significant impact on sexual functions, including both a decrease in sexual desire and ability[citation needed]. Milnacipran can cause pain of the testicles in men. The incidence of cardiovascular and anticholinergic side effects was significantly lower compared to TCAs as a controlled study with over 3,300 patients revealed. Elevation of liver enzymes without signs of symptomatic liver disease has been infrequent. Mood swing to mania has also been seen and dictates termination of treatment. In psychotic patients emergence of delirium has been noticed. Milnacipran has a low incidence of sedation but improves sleep (both duration and quality) in depressed patients. In agitated patients or those with suicidal thoughts additive sedative/anxiolytic treatment is usually indicated.[8]




Milnacipran inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine in an approximately 1:3 ratio, respectively. Milnacipran exerts no significant actions on H1, α1, D1, D2, and mACh receptors, nor on benzodiazepine and opioid binding sites.[10][11][12]

Recently, levomilnacipran, the levorotatory enantiomer of milnacipran, has been found to act as an inhibitor of beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme-1 (BACE-1), which is responsible for β-amyloid plaque formation, and hence may be a potentially useful drug in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.[13] Other BACE-1 inhibitors, such as CTS-21166 (ASP1720), MK-8931, and AZD3293 were in clinical trials for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease,[14] but in both cases clinical trials were halted due to a lack of positive evidence of a favorable benefit to risk ratio and both were considered unlikely to return satisfactory results.


Milnacipran is well absorbed after oral dosing and has a bioavailability of 85%. Meals do not have an influence on the rapidity and extent of absorption. Peak plasma concentrations are reached 2 hours after oral dosing. The elimination half-life of 8 hours is not increased by liver impairment and old age, but by significant renal disease. Milnacipran is conjugated to the inactive glucuronide and excreted in the urine as unchanged drug and conjugate. Only traces of active metabolites are found.


Milnacipran was first approved for the treatment of major depressive episodes in France in December 1996. It is currently marketed (as Ixel) for this indication in over 45 countries worldwide including several European countries such as Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Portugal, and Russia. It is also available in Japan (as Toledomin) and Mexico (as Dalcipran). Cypress Bioscience bought the exclusive rights for approval and marketing of the drug for any purpose in the United States and Canada in 2003 from the manufacturer Laboratoires Pierre Fabre.

In January 2009 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved milnacipran (under the brand name Savella) only for the treatment of fibromyalgia, making it the third medication approved for this purpose in the United States. In July and November 2009, the European Medicines Agency refused marketing authorization for a milnacipran product (under the brand name Impulsor) for the treatment of fibromyalgia.[15]


  1. ^ Anvisa (2023-03-31). "RDC Nº 784 - Listas de Substâncias Entorpecentes, Psicotrópicas, Precursoras e Outras sob Controle Especial" [Collegiate Board Resolution No. 784 - Lists of Narcotic, Psychotropic, Precursor, and Other Substances under Special Control] (in Brazilian Portuguese). Diário Oficial da União (published 2023-04-04). Archived from the original on 2023-08-03. Retrieved 2023-08-16.
  2. ^ Kasper S, Pletan Y, Solles A, Tournoux A (September 1996). "Comparative studies with milnacipran and tricyclic antidepressants in the treatment of patients with major depression: a summary of clinical trial results". International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 11 Suppl 4 (Suppl 4): 35–9. doi:10.1097/00004850-199609004-00005. PMID 8923125. S2CID 27199308.
  3. ^ Lopez-Ibor J, Guelfi JD, Pletan Y, Tournoux A, Prost JF (September 1996). "Milnacipran and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in major depression". International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 11 Suppl 4 (Suppl 4): 41–6. doi:10.1097/00004850-199609004-00006. PMID 8923126. S2CID 31546691.
  4. ^ Papakostas GI, Fava M (January 2007). "A meta-analysis of clinical trials comparing milnacipran, a serotonin--norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor for the treatment of major depressive disorder". European Neuropsychopharmacology. 17 (1): 32–6. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2006.05.001. PMID 16762534. S2CID 27679241.
  5. ^ Nakagawa A, Watanabe N, Omori IM, Barbui C, Cipriani A, McGuire H, Churchill R, Furukawa TA (July 2009). Nakagawa A (ed.). "Milnacipran versus other antidepressive agents for depression". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 8 (3): CD006529. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006529.pub2. PMC 4164845. PMID 19588396.
  6. ^ Cording M, Derry S, Phillips T, Moore RA, Wiffen PJ (October 2015). "Milnacipran for pain in fibromyalgia in adults". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2019 (10): CD008244. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008244.pub3. PMC 6481368. PMID 26482422.
  7. ^ Higuchi T, Briley M (February 2007). "Japanese experience with milnacipran, the first serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor in Japan". Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 3 (1): 41–58. doi:10.2147/nedt.2007.3.1.41. PMC 2654524. PMID 19300537.
  8. ^ "" (PDF).
  9. ^ "SAVELLA - milnacipran hydrochloride tablet, film coated". DailyMed. National Institute of Health.
  10. ^ Moret C, Charveron M, Finberg JP, Couzinier JP, Briley M (December 1985). "Biochemical profile of midalcipran (F 2207), 1-phenyl-1-diethyl-aminocarbonyl-2-aminomethyl-cyclopropane (Z) hydrochloride, a potential fourth generation antidepressant drug". Neuropharmacology. 24 (12): 1211–9. doi:10.1016/0028-3908(85)90157-1. PMID 3005901. S2CID 46629043.
  11. ^ Briley M, Prost JF, Moret C (September 1996). "Preclinical pharmacology of milnacipran". International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 11 Suppl 4: 9–14. doi:10.1097/00004850-199609004-00002. PMID 8923122. S2CID 37407165.
  12. ^ Puozzo C, Panconi E, Deprez D (June 2002). "Pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of milnacipran". International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 17 Suppl 1: S25-35. doi:10.1097/00004850-200206001-00004. PMID 12369608. S2CID 45279690.
  13. ^ Rizvi SM, Shaikh S, Khan M, Biswas D, Hameed N, Shakil S (2014). "Fetzima (levomilnacipran), a drug for major depressive disorder as a dual inhibitor for human serotonin transporters and beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme-1". CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets. 13 (8): 1427–31. doi:10.2174/1871527313666141023145703. PMID 25345508.
  14. ^ Menting KW, Claassen JA (2014). "β-secretase inhibitor; a promising novel therapeutic drug in Alzheimer's disease". Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. 6: 165. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00165. PMC 4104928. PMID 25100992.
  15. ^ European Medicines Agency. "Questions and answers on the recommendati on for the refusal of the marketing authorisation for Milnacipran Pierre Fabre Médicament/Impulsor" (PDF). European Medicines Agency. Retrieved 30 May 2013.