Comparison of escitalopram vs. citalopram and venlafaxine in the treatment of major depression in Spain: clinical and economic consequences.


STUDY OBJECTIVE Population based study to determine the clinical consequences and economic impact of using escitalopram (ESC) vs. citalopram (CIT) and venlafaxine (VEN) in patients who initiate treatment for a new episode of major depression (MD) in real life conditions of outpatient practice. METHODS Observational, multicenter, retrospective study conducted using computerized medical records (administrative databases) of patients treated in six primary care centers and two hospitals between January 2003 and March 2007. STUDY POPULATION patients >20 years of age diagnosed with a new episode of MD who initiate treatment with ESC, CIT or VEN who had not received any antidepressant treatment within the previous 6 months, and were followed for 18 months or more. MAIN VARIABLES socio-demographic variables, remission (defined as a patient completing 6 months of therapy), comorbidity, annual health care costs (medical visits, diagnostic and therapeutic tests, hospitalizations, emergency room and psychoactive drugs prescribed) and non-health care costs (productivity losses at work, mainly sick leave and disability). STATISTICAL ANALYSES logistic regression and ANCOVA models. RESULTS A total of 965 patients (ESC = 131; CIT = 491; VEN = 343) were identified and met study criteria. ESC-treated patients were younger, with a higher proportion of males, and had a lower specific comorbidity (p < 0.01). ESC-treated patients achieved higher remission rates compared to CIT (58.0% vs. 38.3%) or VEN patients (32.4%), p < 0.001, and had lower productivity work losses compared to VEN patients (32.7 vs. 43.8 days), p = 0.042. No differences in productivity work losses were observed between ESC and CIT patients. Compared to the ESC group, higher costs in average/unit of psychoactive drugs were found in the VEN group (€643.00), p = 0.003, whereas no differences were observed between the ESC and CIT groups (€294.70 vs. €265.20). In the corrected model, total costs (health care and non-health care cost) were lower with ESC (€2276.20) compared to CIT (€3093.80), p = 0.047 and VEN (€3801.20), p = 0.045. CONCLUSIONS ESC appears to be dominant in the treatment of new MD episodes when compared to CIT and VEN, resulting in higher remission rates and lower total costs.


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