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Vortioxetine Versus Placebo for Major Depressive Disorder: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Clinical Trial Dataset

Nadia Iovieno, MDa; George I. Papakostas, MDa,*; Anna Feeney, MDa; Maurizio Fava, MDa; Sanjay J. Mathew, MDb,c; Dan I. Iosifescu, MD, MScd,e; James W. Murrough, MD, PhDf,g; Matthew Macaluso, DOh; Rebecca S. Hock, PhDa; and Manish K. Jha, MDi,j

Published: June 15, 2021


Objective: To conduct a meta-analysis of studies of vortioxetine in adults with major depressive disorder (MDD).

Data Sources: Abstracts were identified using PubMed by cross-referencing vortioxetine with placebo and randomized. No language or publication year restrictions were used.

Study Selection: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials comparing oral vortioxetine monotherapy with placebo for acute treatment of MDD.

Data Extraction: Data were extracted with a pre-coded form, as follows: number of patients randomized, treatment group, Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) response and remission rates, and mean change in scores from baseline and standard errors for the MADRS, Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS), and Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST).

Results: 7,269 subjects randomized to vortioxetine (n = 3,630) or placebo (n = 3,639) from 17 studies were included. The probability of receiving placebo did not predict difference in change in MADRS scores between vortioxetine and placebo (estimate = 4.1, P = .54). The standardized mean difference (SMD) (95% CI) for change in MADRS score for vortioxetine overall versus placebo was 0.33 (0.24 to 0.41) and was 0.24 (0.08 to 0.39), 0.33 (0.19 to 0.47), 0.26 (−0.06 to 0.58), and 0.44 (0.27 to 0.62) for 5-mg, 10-mg, 15-mg, and 20-mg doses, respectively. Greater difference in efficacy between drug and placebo was observed in studies with a low rather than a high placebo response rate.

Conclusions: Vortioxetine is more effective than placebo in improving depression, anxiety, and cognition. Less informative or uninformative studies obscured the true treatment effect.

Volume: 82

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