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Safety and Efficacy of Escitalopram in the Long-Term Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(11):1441-1446

Introduction: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder that requires long-term treatment. Escitalopram has previously been shown to be effective and well tolerated in the acute treatment of GAD.

Method: Three 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of nearly identical design were conducted of escitalopram in moderate-to-severe GAD (DSM-IV criteria). Patients completing these trials were given the option of entering a 24-week, open-label, flexible-dose trial of escitalopram (10-20 mg/day). Data were collected from September 20, 2000, to August 15, 2002.

Results: Two hundred ninety-nine (56.8%) of 526 patients completed 24 weeks of open-label treatment. The mean Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A) score at baseline of open-label treatment was 13.1. Long-term escitalopram treatment led to continuing improvement on all anxiety and quality-of-life (QOL) scores. Of those completing 24 weeks of treatment, 92.0% were responders (Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale score < = 2), and the mean HAM-A score in the completer analysis was 6.9; using the last observation carried forward (LOCF), 75.9% were responders, and the mean HAM-A score in the LOCF analysis was 9.2 at endpoint. Insufficient therapeutic response and adverse events led to withdrawal of 4.2% and 9.9% of patients, respectively. Mean increase in weight from baseline was 3.0 lb. No clinically notable changes in mean laboratory, vital sign, or electrocardiographic values were observed.

Conclusion: These results support the long-term tolerability and effectiveness of escitalopram in the treatment of GAD.