Comparison of pramipexole, fluoxetine, and placebo in patients with major depression

Depress Anxiety. 2000;11(2):58-65. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1520-6394(2000)11:2<58::aid-da2>;2-h.


Pramipexole, a dopamine D2 receptor agonist, was tested in 174 patients with major depression, with or without melancholia and without psychotic features. Three daily dose levels (0.375 mg, 1.0 mg, and 5.0 mg) were compared to fluoxetine (Prozac) at 20 mg and placebo in a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group study. After a 1 week placebo run-in period, patients were treated for 8 weeks, had a post-study follow-up (week 9), and were evaluated primarily with the Hamilton Psychiatric Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and the Clinician's Global Impressions-Severity of Illness scale (CGI-SI). All patients who received one dose of study medication were included in the observed-case analysis (no missing data were replaced). Results indicated that by endpoint (week 8), patients receiving pramipexole at the 1.0 mg per day dose had significant improvement over baseline compared to the placebo group by measure of the HAM-D, MADRS, and CGI-SI. Significant improvement in this dose group was seen at other timepoints as well. The most obvious improvement was seen in the pramipexole 5.0 mg group, although a substantial dropout rate for this group precluded statistical tests vs. placebo late in the study. Patients taking fluoxetine also showed significant improvements at endpoint on the MADRS and earlier in the study on the HAM-D. No new or unusual safety concerns were generated during this study. Pramipexole helped safely alleviate the symptoms of depression at 1.0 mg per day and especially in those patients who could tolerate the escalation to 5 mg per day.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzothiazoles
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Dopamine Agonists / adverse effects
  • Dopamine Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment
  • Pramipexole
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Thiazoles / adverse effects
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use*


  • Benzothiazoles
  • Dopamine Agonists
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Thiazoles
  • Fluoxetine
  • Pramipexole