Fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac, Fontex, Ladose, Sarafem) is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. Fluoxetine is approved for the treatment of major depression (including pediatric depression), obsessive-compulsive disorder (in both adult and pediatric populations), bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, panic disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Despite the availability of newer agents, it remains extremely popular. Over 22.2 million prescriptions for generic formulations of fluoxetine were filled in the United States in 2007, making it the third most prescribed antidepressant. Fluoxetine was developed by Eli Lilly and Company.
According to David Wong, the work which eventually led to the discovery of fluoxetine began at Eli Lilly in 1970 as a collaboration between Bryan Molloy and Robert Rathburn. It was known at that time that the antihistamine diphenhydramine shows some antidepressant-like properties. 3-Phenoxy-3-phenylpropylamine, a compound structurally similar to diphenhydramine, was taken as a starting point, and Molloy synthesized dozens of its derivatives. Testing the physiological effects of these compounds in mice resulted in nisoxetine, a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor currently widely used in biochemical experiments.