Comparison of escitalopram versus citalopram for the treatment of major depressive disorder in a geriatric population

Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Sep;24(9):2587-95. doi: 10.1185/03007990802303525. Epub 2008 Jul 31.


Objective: To compare escitalopram versus citalopram for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) in geriatric patients.

Research design and methods: Administrative claims data (2003-2005) were analyzed for patients aged > or =65 years with at least one inpatient claim or two independent medical claims associated with MDD diagnosis. Patients were continuously enrolled for at least 12 months, filled at least one prescription for citalopram or escitalopram and had no second generation antidepressant use during the 6-month pre-index date. Contingency table analysis and survival analysis were used to compare outcomes between the two treatment groups.

Main outcome measures: Treatment persistence, hospitalization utilization, and prescription drug, medical, and total healthcare costs were analyzed. Outcomes were compared between patients initiated on escitalopram and those initiated on citalopram both descriptively and using multivariate analysis adjusting for baseline characteristics.

Results: Among 691 geriatric patients, escitalopram-treated patients (n=459) were less likely to discontinue treatment (hazard ratio [HR]=0.83, p=0.049) or switch to another second generation antidepressant (HR=0.62, p=0.001) compared to patients treated with citalopram (n=232). Patients treated with escitalopram had a significantly lower hospitalization rate (31.2% vs. 38.8%, p=0.045) and 66% fewer hospitalization days based on negative binomial regression (p<0.001). While escitalopram patients had comparable prescription drug costs, they had lower total medical service costs (regression: $9748 vs. $19,208, p<0.001) and lower total healthcare costs (regression: $11,434 vs. $20,601, p<0.001).

Limitations: This study's limitations include its small sample size, short observational periods and exclusivity of indirect costs.

Conclusions: Geriatric patients treated with escitalopram had better treatment persistence, fewer hospitalizations, and lower medical and total healthcare costs than patients treated with citalopram. Most of the cost reduction was attributable to significantly lower hospitalizations and total medical costs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Citalopram / economics
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / economics
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / economics
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Citalopram