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On the problems of switching from intravenous to oral administration in drug treatment of endogenous depression--a placebo-controlled double-blind trial with doxepin.

Author(s): Adler L, Hajak G, Lehmann K, Kunert HJ, Hoffmann G, Issinger J, Boke J, Huether G, Ruther E

Affiliation(s): Department of Psychiatry, Gottingen University Hospital, Germany.

Publication date & source: 1997-03, Pharmacopsychiatry., 30(2):62-9.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

In the treatment of depressive disorders the onset of action can be accelerated if the antidepressant drug is initially administered by intravenous infusion. It is not clear whether this effect is due to pharmacological or to psychological effects of the infusion setting. The necessary switch to oral administration may be problematic. Uncontrolled observations indicate that it could be associated with a remarkable deterioration in the course of the disease. This randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study on doxepin is the first investigation of the effect of the switch from parenteral to oral administration on symptoms of endogenous depression. The hypothesis to be tested, that there is a significant worsening of treatment response during the switch, must be rejected on the basis of objective and subjective psychometric tests. There was in fact a continuous improvement. Precondition was a selection of patients with typical "endogenous" depressions and maintenance of at least constant plasma levels of the active antidepressants. In patients under the age of 65 years this can generally be achieved by switching in a ratio of 125 mg i.v. to 250 per os in the case of doxepin. Individual case studies indicated that a worsening in the patient's progress after switching was correlated with a decreasing plasma level of the active drug. Low plasma level already during the infusion period, insufficient response, and questionable compliance on oral medication were associated. Due to large interindividual differences of plasma levels by a factor of 10, measurements before and after switching are required.

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