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Neurology. 2010 Aug 3;75(5):448-55. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181ebdd79.

Atomoxetine for depression and other neuropsychiatric symptoms in Parkinson disease.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.



Depression and antidepressant use, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are common in Parkinson disease (PD). The objective of this clinical trial was to assess the efficacy of atomoxetine, a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), for the treatment of clinically significant depressive symptoms and common comorbid neuropsychiatric symptoms in PD.


A total of 55 subjects with PD and an Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Clinician (IDS-C) score > or = 22 were randomized to 8 weeks of atomoxetine or placebo treatment (target dosage = 80 mg/day). Depression response (> 50% decrease in IDS-C score or Clinical Global Impression-Improvement [CGI-I] score of 1 or 2) was assessed using intention-to-treat modeling procedures. Secondary outcomes included global cognition, daytime sleepiness, anxiety, apathy, and motor function.


There were no between-groups differences in a priori-defined response rates. Using a more liberal response criterion of > 40% decrease in IDS score from baseline, there was a trend (p = 0.08) favoring atomoxetine. Patients receiving atomoxetine experienced significantly greater improvement in global cognition (p = 0.003) and daytime sleepiness (p = 0.001), and atomoxetine was well-tolerated.


Atomoxetine treatment was not efficacious for the treatment of clinically significant depressive symptoms in PD, but was associated with improvement in global cognitive performance and daytime sleepiness. Larger studies of SNRIs in PD for disorders of mood, cognition, and wakefulness are appropriate.


This interventional study provides Class II evidence that atomoxetine (target dosage = 80 mg/day) is not efficacious in improving clinically significant depression in PD.

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