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Efficacy and tolerability of tranylcypromine versus phenelzine: a double-blind study in antidepressant-refractory depressed inpatients.

Author(s): Birkenhager TK, van den Broek WW, Mulder PG, Bruijn JA, Moleman P

Affiliation(s): Departments of Psychiatry, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. t.birkenhager@erasmusmc.nl

Publication date & source: 2004-11, J Clin Psychiatry., 65(11):1505-10.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Comparative Study ; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to examine whether phenelzine is a suitable alternative to tranylcypromine in antidepressant-resistant depression. METHOD: A total of 77 severely depressed in-patients, meeting the DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder, who failed to respond to fixed plasma level treatment with either tricyclic antidepressants or fluvoxamine were withdrawn from psychotropic medication and included in a double-blind flexible-dose 5-week comparison of tranylcypromine and phenelzine. RESULTS: Of the 77 patients, 67 (87%) completed the trial, of whom 35 (52%) responded. No significant differences in response between both drugs were observed. Seventeen (44%) of 39 patients responded to tranylcypromine and 18 (47%) of 38 to phenelzine (> or = 50% reduction in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression [HAM-D] score). The mean reduction in HAM-D score was 10.4 +/- 8.3 for the tranylcypromine sample versus 8.3 +/- 8.4 for the phenelzine-treated patients. Only a few patients (10%) used concomitant psychotropic medication. A substantial number of patients experienced severe side effects, mainly dizziness, agitation, and insomnia; the incidence was the same in both samples (21%). CONCLUSION: No difference in efficacy was observed between both monoamine oxidase inhibitors in a sample of patients with severe antidepressant-refractory depression. Phenelzine appears to be a suitable alternative to tranylcypromine.

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