Similar effectiveness of paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline in primary care: a randomized trial

JAMA. 2001 Dec 19;286(23):2947-55. doi: 10.1001/jama.286.23.2947.

Abstract

Context: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant, yet it is not known whether one SSRI is more effective than another.

Objective: To compare the effectiveness of 3 SSRIs (paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline) in depressed primary care patients.

Design: Open-label, randomized, intention-to-treat trial, with patient enrollment occurring in April-November 1999.

Setting: Thirty-seven clinics in 2 US primary care research networks.

Patients: A total of 573 depressed adult patients for whom their primary care physician thought that antidepressant therapy was warranted and who completed a baseline interview.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive paroxetine (n = 189), fluoxetine (n = 193), or sertraline (n = 191) for 9 months. Primary care physicians were allowed to switch patients to a different SSRI or non-SSRI antidepressant if they did not adequately respond to or tolerate the initial SSRI.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was change in the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) Mental Component Summary score (range, 0-100), compared across treatment groups at 1, 3, 6, and 9 months. Secondary outcomes included other depression and psychological measures, multiple measures of social and work functioning, and other domains of health-related quality of life, such as physical functioning, concentration and memory, vitality, bodily pain, sleep, and sexual functioning.

Results: Follow-up interviews were successfully completed in 94% of patients at 1 month, 87% at 3 months, 84% at 6 months, and 79% at 9 months. Responses to the 3 SSRIs were comparable on all measures and at all time points. The mean change in the SF-36 Mental Component Summary score at 9 months was + 15.8 in the paroxetine group, + 15.1 in the fluoxetine group, and + 17.4 in the sertraline group. The drugs were also associated with similar incidences of adverse effects and discontinuation rates.

Conclusions: The SSRI antidepressants paroxetine, fluoxetine, and sertraline were similar in effectiveness for depressive symptoms as well as multiple domains of health-related quality of life over the entire 9 months of this trial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paroxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome

Substances

  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline