Cardiovascular Profile of Duloxetine, a Dual Reuptake Inhibitor of Serotonin and Norepinephrine

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This analysis assessed the effects of duloxetine, a dual reuptake inhibitor of serotonin and norepinephrine, on indices of cardiovascular safety, including heart rate, blood pressure (BP), and electrocardiograms (ECGs), in a large group of clinical trial patients with depression. Data were available from 8 double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled (n = 777), and active comparator-controlled depression trials. Duloxetine (n = 1139) doses ranged from 40 to 120 mg/d, and fluoxetine (n = 70) and paroxetine (n = 359) were administered at a dose of 20 mg/d. Patients were treated for 8 to 9 weeks. There was a significant increase for duloxetine compared with placebo for heart rate (1.6 vs. −0.6 beats per minute) and for systolic BP (1.0 vs. −1.2 mm Hg); the difference for diastolic BP (1.1 vs. 0.3) was not significant. There were no significant differences between duloxetine and placebo treatment groups in the incidence of sustained (at least 3 consecutive visits) elevations in systolic (duloxetine 1.0%, placebo 0.4%), diastolic (duloxetine 0.4%, placebo 0.4%), or either (duloxetine 1.3%, placebo 0.8%) BP. Moreover, the effect of duloxetine on mean changes in supine systolic and diastolic BP was not significantly different from that of fluoxetine or paroxetine. Drug-placebo differences in mean changes in electrocardiograms (eg, QTc, PR, and QRS intervals) were neither statistically nor clinically significant, with the exception that duloxetine 120 mg/d had significant decreases in PR and QRS intervals compared with placebo. These data demonstrate that duloxetine has modest effects on heart rate and BP and no clinically meaningful effect on electrocardiogram profiles in a relatively healthy cohort of clinical trial patients. The cardiovascular effects of duloxetine appear to be comparable with medications considered to be first-line options for depression.

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