EMSAM (generic names: selegiline and deprenyl) is the first antidepressant available in the form of a patch that looks like a Band-Aid. To make EMSAM, the medication selegiline is mixed with tacky plastics acrylic, ethylene vinyl acetate, polyethylene, polyester, polyurethane, and silicon coated polyester and applied to the back of a plastic square. When you unwrap the patch and stick it onto your skin, it releases selegiline into your body for twenty four hours. The most common side effect of EMSAM is irritation of the skin under the patch.
EMSAM patches come in three sizes that deliver 6, 9, or 12 milligrams of selegiline per day. At the 6-milligram dose, EMSAM is free from the potentially fatal high blood pressure reaction to foods and other medications. Unfortunately, EMSAM is not very effective for depression at this low dose.
The higher dose 9 and 12-milligram EMSAM patches are more effective at reducing depression, but at these doses, you must avoid the MAOI list of proscribed medications and foods. If not, the 9 or 12-milligram patches can trigger potentially fatal attacks of high blood pressure like other MAOIs. Because other MAOIs like Nardil, and Parnate carry similar risks and work much better for depression, EMSAM does not fare well on a risk/benefit comparison, and many patients do not like EMSAM.