Efficacy of olanzapine and olanzapine-fluoxetine combination in the treatment of bipolar I depression

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003 Nov;60(11):1079-88. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.60.11.1079.


Background: Despite the longer duration of the depressive phase in bipolar disorder and the frequent clinical use of antidepressants combined with antipsychotics or mood stabilizers, relatively few controlled studies have examined treatment strategies for bipolar depression.

Objective: To examine the use of olanzapine and olanzapine-fluoxetine combination in the treatment of bipolar I depression.

Design: Double-blind, 8-week, randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Eighty-four sites (inpatient and outpatient) in 13 countries. Patients A total of 833 randomized adults with bipolar I depression with a Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) score of at least 20. Intervention Patients were randomly assigned to receive placebo (n = 377); olanzapine, 5 to 20 mg/d (n = 370); or olanzapine-fluoxetine combination, 6 and 25, 6 and 50, or 12 and 50 mg/d (n = 86).

Main outcome measure: Changes in MADRS total scores using mixed-effects model repeated-measures analyses.

Results: During all 8 study weeks, the olanzapine and olanzapine-fluoxetine groups showed statistically significant improvement in depressive symptoms vs the placebo group (P<.001 for all). The olanzapine-fluoxetine group also showed statistically greater improvement than the olanzapine group at weeks 4 through 8. At week 8, MADRS total scores were lower than at baseline by 11.9, 15.0, and 18.5 points in the placebo, olanzapine, and olanzapine-fluoxetine groups, respectively. Remission criteria were met by 24.5% (87/355) of the placebo group, 32.8% (115/351) of the olanzapine group, and 48.8% (40/82) of the olanzapine-fluoxetine group. Treatment-emergent mania (Young Mania Rating Scale score <15 at baseline and > or =15 subsequently) did not differ among groups (placebo, 6.7% [23/345]; olanzapine, 5.7% [19/335]; and olanzapine-fluoxetine, 6.4% [5/78]). Adverse events for olanzapine-fluoxetine therapy were similar to those for olanzapine therapy but also included higher rates of nausea and diarrhea.

Conclusions: Olanzapine is more effective than placebo, and combined olanzapine-fluoxetine is more effective than olanzapine and placebo in the treatment of bipolar I depression without increased risk of developing manic symptoms.

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 / administration & dosage*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / administration & dosage*
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Olanzapine
  • Pirenzepine / administration & dosage*
  • Pirenzepine / adverse effects
  • Pirenzepine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Fluoxetine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Pirenzepine
  • Olanzapine