Mumbai: Clinical trials of Forest Laboratories
Inc.'s Lexapro have proved it to be more effective than
Eli Lilly and Co.'s Cymbalta in treating moderate to severe
an eight-week head-to-head study of the two medicines
among 270 patients, Forest said Lexapro was the better
tolerated of the two highly profitable drugs, the company
The study, funded by Forest, was intended to demonstrate
that Lexapro was not inferior to Cymbalta, one of the
in we thought Lexapro would do as well and be better tolerated,"
Arif Kahn, medical director of the Northwestern Clinical
Research Center in Bellevue, Washington and one of the
study's lead investigators, said in an interview.
was not expected. I didn't think it would reach statistical
significance," said Kahn, who prescribes both medicines
for depression in his practice.
Against an expected 50 per cent improvement in patients'
depression symptoms as measured by a standard depression
rating system known as MADRS (Montgomery and Aasberg Depression
Rating Scale), patients aged 18 to 80 showed a MADRS score
of 26 per cent or greater.
Lexapro showed improvement level of 68 per cent compared
to 52 per cent reached with Cymbalta. In addition, 44
per cent of the Lexapro patients experienced near total
disappearance of depression symptoms compared with a 38-per
cent improvement in the Cymbalta group.
Lexapro belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
(SSRI) class of antidepressants and are among the most
widely prescribed medicines for depression. Cymbalta belongs
to a newer class called SNRIs that work on both serotonin
and norepinephrine levels in the brain.
Lexapro, licensed by Denmark's H. Lundbeck, had third-quarter
sales of $522.7 million. Cymbalta's third-quarter sales
were $348.6 million, but the newer drug is growing at
a much faster pace.