The safety and tolerability of duloxetine compared with paroxetine and placebo: a pooled analysis of 4 clinical trials

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(4):212-9. doi: 10.4088/pcc.v08n0404.


Background: To compare the safety and tolerability of duloxetine with paroxetine and placebo in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Method: Data from four 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo- and paroxetine-controlled studies of duloxetine for MDD (DSM-IV criteria) were pooled to compare the safety and tolerability of duloxetine 40 to 120 mg/day with paroxetine 20 mg q.d. Two of the 4 trials included a 26-week extension.

Results: The pooled database included 1466 patients (duloxetine, N = 736; paroxetine, N = 359; placebo, N = 371). No deaths occurred in the acute phase trials. Discontinuation rates for adverse events did not differ significantly for duloxetine, 8.0%, and paroxetine, 6.1%. Nausea was the most frequent treatment-emergent adverse event for duloxetine (duloxetine, 14.4%; paroxetine, 12.0%; placebo, 3.8%). Blood pressure and corrected QT (QTc) interval changes were modest and did not differ significantly for the 3 groups. Mean heart rate increased slightly in the duloxetine group, 1.0 beat/minute, and did differ significantly (p < .001) from that in the paroxetine group, but the change is of doubtful importance. Mean changes in laboratory analytes remained within the reference range. Emergent sexual dysfunction was significantly greater among duloxetine- and paroxetine-treated patients than placebo-treated patients (p = .007 vs. duloxetine and p < .001 vs. paroxetine); however, it was significantly lower in duloxetine-treated patients than in paroxetine-treated patients (46.4% vs. 61.4%; p = .015). During the extension phase, weight gain (≥ 7% of initial body weight) was greater in both active-treatment groups than in the placebo group (duloxetine, 10.8%; paroxetine, 13.8%; placebo, 3.1%), but the active-treatment groups did not differ.

Conclusions: Duloxetine is safe and well tolerated in patients with MDD, with safety and tolerability comparable to that of paroxetine.