Objective: To compare the efficacy of plasma level-targeted dose imipramine and high-dose venlafaxine in depressed inpatients in a randomized double-blind study. Methods: The study included 85 patients with a diagnosis of major depressive episode according to the DSM IV criteria and a 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) score≥17.Patients were randomized to imipramine or venlafaxine. The dose of imipramine was adjusted for each patient to a predefined blood level of 200-300ng/ml. The dose of venlafaxine was increased gradually to 300-375mg/day. Efficacy was evaluated after 7 weeks of treatment. Results: The mean age of the study group was 54.5 (range 29-82) years. There was no significant difference according to the primary outcome criterion of a ≥50% reduction on the HAM-D score: 17 of 43 (39.5%) patients on imipramine were responders compared to 21 of 42 (50%) patients on venlafaxine. When considering remission as outcome criterion (HAM-D score≤7), 10 of 43 (23.3%) patients on imipramine were remitters compared to 15 of 42 (35.7%) patients on venlafaxine; again, no significant difference. When analysing a subpopulation of patients without psychotic features, with remission as outcome criterion, a significant difference was found: 5 of 34 (14.7%) patients on imipramine were remitters compared to 12 of 31 (38.7%) patients on venlafaxine. Conclusions: The present study used optimal doses in depressed inpatients and showed that venlafaxine is at least equal in efficacy to imipramine. The results in the subgroup without psychotic features indicate a possible superiority of venlafaxine.

Imipramine, Inpatients, Major depression, Plasma level targeted trial, Venlafaxine
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.05.029, hdl.handle.net/1765/40636
Journal of Psychiatric Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Vermeiden, M, Mulder, P.G.H, van den Broek, W.W, Bruijn, J.A, & Birkenhäger, T.K. (2013). A double-blind randomized study comparing plasma level-targeted dose imipramine and high-dose venlafaxine in depressed inpatients. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(10), 1337–1342. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.05.029