Efficacy of escitalopram monotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder: A pooled analysis of 4 Chinese clinical trials

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This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of escitalopram monotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) on the basis of pooled data analysis of 4 Chinese clinical trials.

A total of 649 outpatients with MDD score of ≥18 at the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD17) were included across 4 eligible studies. Patients were treated with 10 mg/day escitalopram for 2 weeks, and then 20 mg/day escitalopram was administered if the clinical response was poor.

The change in total HAMD17 score was significantly greater in moderate MDD group than in other subgroups (P < .001), but the proportion of responders and remission rate in moderate MDD group were markedly lower than in mild MDD group. As compared to patients with concomitant anxiety, anxiety free patients showed significant improvement in total HAMD17 score at days 14 and 28 (P < .05). However, there was no significant difference in the change of total HAMD17 score at day 7 and the end of study. According to clinical global impression (CGI) score, the total response rate (very much improved and much improved) was 86.7%. There were 479 adverse events (AEs), but serious AEs were not observed. A total of 3.39% (22/649) of patients withdrew from these studies due to AEs. The most common (incidence ≥2.0%) AEs were nausea, dry mouth, somnolence, dizziness, fatigue, dyspepsia, liver dysfunction, and loss of appetite.

Escitalopram monotherapy is effective and safe in the treatment of MDD in Chinese patients, and therapeutic efficacy is dependent on the severity of MDD. Further study is needed to identify better predictors of therapeutic responses.

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