The aim of this double-blind study was to compare the efficacy and safety of venlafaxine vs. fluoxetine in the treatment of patients with depression and anxiety. A total of 146 moderately depressed patients with associated anxiety were randomized to receive 75 mg/d venlafaxine or 20 mg/d fluoxetine for 12 wk. Dose increases were permitted after 2 wk of treatment, to 150 mg/d venlafaxine and 40 mg/d fluoxetine, to optimize response. At the final visit, a statistically significantly greater efficacy of venlafaxine over fluoxetine was observed on depressive symptoms and concomitant anxiety, and 75·0 and 50·7% of patients administered venlafaxine and fluoxetine, respectively, showed an overall response. A sustained response (for at least 2 wk), present at the end of the study was achieved in 57·8 and 43·3% of patients in the venlafaxine and fluoxetine groups, respectively, and at the final visit, 59·4 and 40·3% of patients, respectively, were in remission (virtually asymptomatic). Dose increases were required by a greater percentage of patients in the fluoxetine group (52·9%), than in the venlafaxine group (37·1%), and in those patients whose dose was increased, a higher efficacy was again observed with venlafaxine. Venlafaxine and fluoxetine were well tolerated, with the most frequently experienced adverse events being nausea and headache. Fewer patients in the venlafaxine group than in the fluoxetine group reported at least one adverse event (55·7 and 67·1% patients, respectively). Venlafaxine therefore proved to be significantly more effective than fluoxetine in improving depressive symptoms and concomitant anxiety.
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