Acute and longer-term safety results from a pooled analysis of duloxetine studies for the treatment of children and adolescents with major depressive disorder

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2015 May;25(4):293-305. doi: 10.1089/cap.2014.0076.


Objective: To assess acute and longer-term safety of duloxetine in the treatment of children and adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD), a pooled analysis of data from two completed randomized, double-blind, multicenter, phase 3, placebo- and active-controlled trials was undertaken. In these studies, neither duloxetine (investigational drug) nor fluoxetine (active control) demonstrated a statistically significant improvement compared with placebo on the primary efficacy measure.

Methods: Patients ages 7-17 years with MDD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) received duloxetine (n=341), fluoxetine (n=234), or placebo (n=225) for 10 week acute and 26 week extended (duloxetine or fluoxetine only) treatments. Safety measures included treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs), the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, vital signs, electrocardiograms, laboratory samples, and growth (height and weight) assessments.

Results: Significantly more patients discontinued because of adverse events during duloxetine (8.2%) treatment than during placebo (3.1%) treatment (p≤0.05). TEAEs in >10% of duloxetine-treated patients were headache and nausea. No completed suicides or deaths occurred. During acute treatment, 6.6% of duloxetine-, 8.0% of fluoxetine-, and 8.2% of placebo-treated patients had worsening suicidal ideation from baseline. Among patients initially randomized to duloxetine or fluoxetine who had suicidal ideation at study baseline, 81% of duloxetine- and 77% of fluoxetine-treated patients had improvements in suicidal ideation at end-point in the 36-week studies. Suicidal behavior occurred in two fluoxetine-treated patients and one placebo-treated patient during acute treatment, and in seven duloxetine-treated patients and one fluoxetine-treated patient during extended treatment. Duloxetine-treated patients had a mean pulse increase of ∼3 beats per minute, and mean blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) increases of <2.0 mm Hg at week 36. Weight decrease (≥3.5%) during acute treatment occurred with statistically (p≤0.05) greater frequency for both the duloxetine (11.4%) and fluoxetine (11.5%) groups versus the placebo (5.5%) group; however, mean weight increase occurred for both duloxetine and fluoxetine groups during extended treatment.

Conclusion: Results from this pooled analysis of two studies were consistent with the known safety and tolerability profile of duloxetine. Clinical Trial Registry Numbers: NCT00849901 and NCT00849693.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Duloxetine Hydrochloride / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Suicidal Ideation


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Fluoxetine
  • Duloxetine Hydrochloride

Associated data