A Canadian multicenter, double-blind study of paroxetine and fluoxetine in major depressive disorder
Chouinard G, Saxena B, Belanger MC, Ravindran A,
Bakish D, Beauclair L, Morris P, Vasavan Nair NP,
Manchanda R, Reesal R, Remick R, O'Neill MC
Hopital Louis-H. Lafontaine and Allan Memorial Institute,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
J Affect Disord 1999 Jul; 54(1-2):39-48


BACKGROUND: Recent studies have suggested clinical differences among selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In a 12-week randomized, multicenter, double-blind trial, the antidepressant and anxiolytic efficacy of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors paroxetine and fluoxetine was compared in patients with moderate to severe depression. METHODS: A total of 203 patients were randomized to fixed doses (20 mg/day) of paroxetine or fluoxetine for the first six weeks of therapy. From week 7-12, dosing could be adjusted biweekly, as required (paroxetine 20-50 mg/day, and fluoxetine 20-80 mg/day). The mean prescribed doses were paroxetine 25.5 mg/day (range 20.0-40.2 mg/day), and fluoxetine 27.5 mg/day (range 20.0-59.5 mg/day). Emergence of motor nervousness or restlessness was assessed using the ESRS scale for akathisia. RESULTS: Both active treatments demonstrated comparable antidepressant efficacy (HAM-D, CGI). Anxiolytic activity of the two drugs (COVI, STAI, HAM-D) was also comparable. However, paroxetine was found to be superior to fluoxetine on two subscore measures at week 1 of therapy (HAM-D Agitation item, p < 0.05; Psychic Anxiety item, p < 0.05), with no differences detected after week 2. The overall incidence of adverse effects was comparable in the two treatment groups. Constipation, dyspepsia, tremor, sweating and abnormal ejaculation were more common in paroxetine-treated subjects, whereas nausea and nervousness were more frequent in fluoxetine-treated patients. Weight loss was more common in the fluoxetine versus paroxetine group (11.88% versus 2.94%, respectively). ESRS scores for akathisia were low throughout the study and showed little change. LIMITATIONS: Differences observed between the two drugs in antianxiety effects were limited to two measures of anxiety among several others. DISCUSSION: The data indicate that paroxetine and fluoxetine have comparable antidepressant and anxiolytic efficacy. Paroxetine appears to produce an earlier improvement in agitation and psychic anxiety symptoms compared with fluoxetine.
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