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Double-Blind Comparison of Bupropion Sustained Release and Sertraline in Depressed Outpatients

J Clin Psychiatry 1997;58(12):532-537

Background: A sustained-release formulation of bupropion (bupropion SR), developed with an improved pharmacokinetic profile to permit less frequent dosing than the immediate-release form, has not been evaluated in active comparator trials. This randomized, double-blind, parallel-group trial was conducted to compare the efficacy and safety of bupropion SR and sertraline.

Method: Outpatients with moderate to severe major depressive disorder (DSM-IV) received bupropion SR (100_300 mg/day) or sertraline (50_200 mg/day) for 16 weeks. Psychiatric evaluations, including the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), the Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A), the Clinical Global Impressions scale for Severity of Illness (CGI-S), and for Improvement (CGI-I) were completed, and adverse events were assessed in the clinic periodically throughout treatment. Patients' orgasm function was also assessed.

Results: Mean HAM-D, HAM-A, CGI-I, and CGI-S scores improved over the course of treatment in both the bupropion SR group and the sertraline group; no between-group differences were observed on any of the scales. Orgasm dysfunction was significantly (p<.001) more common in sertraline-treated patients compared with bupropion SR_treated patients. The adverse events of nausea, diarrhea, somnolence, and sweating were also experienced more frequently (p<.05) in sertraline-treated patients. No differences were noted between the two treatments for vital signs and weight.

Conclusion: This double-blind comparison of bupropion SR and sertraline demonstrates that bupropion and sertraline are similarly effective for the treatment of depression. Both compounds were relatively well tolerated, and orgasm dysfunction, nausea, diarrhea, somnolence, and sweating were reported more frequently in sertraline-treated patients.