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CNS Spectr. 2009 Jun;14(6):326-33.

Escitalopram versus SNRI antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depressive disorder: integrative analysis of four double-blind, randomized clinical trials.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298-0710, USA.



Recent data suggest that escitalopram may be more effective in severe depression than other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.


Individual patient data from four randomized, double-blind comparative trials of escitalopram versus a serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) (two trials with duloxetine and two with venlafaxine extended release) in outpatients (18-85 years of age) with moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder were pooled. The primary efficacy parameter in all four trials was mean change in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score.


Significantly fewer escitalopram (82/524) than SNRI (114/527) patients prematurely withdrew from treatment due to all causes (15.6% vs. 21.6%, Fisher Exact: P=.014) and adverse events (5.3% vs. 12.0%, Fisher Exact: P<.0001). Mean reduction in MADRS score from baseline to Week 8 was significantly greater for the escitalopram group versus the SNRI group using the last observation carried forward (LOCF) approach [mean treatment difference at Week 8 of 1.7 points (P<.01)]. Similar results were observed in the severely depressed (baseline MADRS score >or= 30) patient subset (mean treatment difference at Week 8 of 2.9 points [P<.001, LOCF]). Observed cases analyses yielded no significant differences in efficacy parameters.


This pooled analysis indicates that escitalopram is at least as effective as the SNRIs (venlafaxine XR and duloxetine), even in severe depression, and escitalopram treatment was better tolerated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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