Duloxetine (Cymbalta) versus Other
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) vs. Escitalopram (Lexapro)
Escitalopram may be superior to duloxetine in acute treatment and at
least as efficacious and better tolerated in long-term treatment of
major depressive disorder.
Major depressive disorder:
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and escitalopram (Lexapro) were compared in
an 8-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in
major depressive disorder. Both drugs demonstrated similar remission
rates over the course of the study, with the probability of remission
reaching 70% for duloxetine and 75% for escitalopram. Similar improvement
was observed for both duloxetine and escitalopram on efficacy measures 5.
Escitalopram appears to have a significant advantage over duloxetine
in improving sleep 5.
In recent comparative study of the efficacy of treatment with escitalopram
versus duloxetine at week 8, the proportion of responders was 69%
with escitalopram and 58% with duloxetine. Remission rates were 56%
with escitalopram and 48% with duloxetine 6.
- Side effects and tolerability:
The rate of treatment discontinuation due to side effects is lower
for escitalopram (9%) compared to duloxetine (17%). Nausea, dry mouth, vomiting, yawning, insomnia and constipation
occur significantly more frequently with duloxetine than with escitalopram5,6.
Duloxetine side effects tend to emerge early in treatment (e.g.,
nausea, dry mouth), whereas escitalopram adverse effects tend to emerge
later in treatment (e.g., diarrhea, weight increase).
In clinical tial statistically significant drug differences were identified
in the mean changes from baseline to study endpoint for pulse (+3.05
beats per minute (bpm), duloxetine; 0.89 bpm, escitalopram) and systolic
blood pressure (+3.73 mmHg, duloxetine; +0.31 mmHg, escitalopram).
At 8 months, mean change in weight was significantly higher for escitalopram
compared with duloxetine (+0.61 kg, duloxetine; +1.83 kg, escitalopram).
However, the incidence of treatment-emergent abnormal weight gain
(>/= 7% increase in weight from baseline) was similar between drugs
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) vs. Paroxetine (Paxil)
Major depressive disorder: In clinical study duloxetine treated
patients (80 and 120 mg/day) showed significantly greater improvement
in the HAMD(17) total score at week 8 compared with placebo. Paroxetine
was not significantly different from placebo on mean change on the
HAMD(17). Duloxetine 120 mg/day also showed significant improvement
on most secondary efficacy measures (six of nine) compared with placebo
while duloxetine 80 mg/day (three of nine) and paroxetine (three of
nine) were significantly superior to placebo on fewer secondary measures.
Both duloxetine doses met statistical criteria for non-inferiority
to paroxetine 3.
- Side effects: Nausea occurs more frequently with duloxetine.
The incidence of sexual dysfunction is significantly higher with paroxetine
2. Insomnia occurs significantly
more frequently with duloxetine than with paroxetine (19.8% vs. 8.0%
for paroxetine respectively) 4.
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) vs. Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Duloxetine more potently blocks serotonin and norephinepherine transporters
in vitro and in vivo than venlafaxine 8.
Major depressive disorder:
Venlafaxine-XR tends to have a favorable
trend in remission and response rates compared with duloxetine1.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
Duloxetine has similar efficacy to venlafaxine in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)9.
- Side effects: Nausea is the most common treatment-emergent
side effect for both drugs, and is significantly higher with duloxetine
60mg/day compared to venlafaxine 150mg/day. Sustained elevations of
systolic blood pressure occur significantly more frequently with venlafaxine
than with duloxetine 7.
- Withdrawal symptoms: Venlafaxine is associated with
significantly more discontinuation symptoms than duloxetine 7.
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and venlafaxine-XR in the treatment of major depressive disorder:
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PV, McNamara RK, Wang F, Watkin JG, Detke MJ. Sexual functioning assessed
in 4 double-blind placebo- and paroxetine-controlled trials of duloxetine
for major depressive disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;66(6):686-92.
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ST, Mallinckrodt CH, Wohlreich MM. Duloxetine versus escitalopram
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Published: March 31, 2008
Last updated: March 24, 2014