Background: It had been suggested that the antidepressant venlafaxine, which inhibits reuptake of both serotonin and (at higher doses) noradrenaline, may result in better outcomes than treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Aims: To compare remission rates during treatment with SSRIs or venlafaxine.
Method: Data from eight comparable randomised, double-blind studies of major depressive disorder were pooled to compare remission rates (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score < or = 7) during treatment with venlafaxine (n = 851), SSRIs (fluoxetine, paroxetine, fluvoxamine; n = 748) or placebo (four studies; n = 446).
Results: Remission rates were: venlafaxine, 45% (382/851); SSRIs, 35% (260/748); placebo, 25% (110/446) (P: < 0.001; odds ratio for remission is 1.50 (1.3-1.9), favouring venlafaxine v. SSRIs). The difference between venlafaxine and the SSRIs was significant at week 2, whereas the difference between SSRIs and placebo reached significance at week 4. Results were not dependent on any one study or the definition of remission.
Conclusions: Remission rates were significantly higher with venlafaxine than with an SSRI.