Desvenlafaxine Versus Placebo in the Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder

Sarah Atkinson, Shannon Lubaczewski, Sara Ramaker, Richard D. England, Dalia B. Wajsbrot, Richat Abbas, Robert L. Findling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the short-term efficacy and safety of desvenlafaxine versus placebo in the treatment of children and adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD). Methods: Outpatient children (7-11 years) and adolescents (12-17 years) who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for MDD and had screening and baseline Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) total scores >40 were randomly assigned to 8 weeks of treatment with placebo, low exposure desvenlafaxine (20, 30, or 35 mg/day based on baseline weight), or higher exposure desvenlafaxine (25, 35, or 50 mg/day based on baseline weight). The primary efficacy endpoint was change from baseline in CDRS-R total score at week 8, analyzed using a mixed-effects model for repeated measures. Secondary efficacy assessments included Clinical Global Impressions-Severity and Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scales. Safety assessments included adverse events and the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale. Results: The safety population included 363 patients (children, n = 109; adolescents, n = 254). No statistical separation from placebo was observed for either desvenlafaxine group for CDRS-R total score or for any secondary efficacy endpoint. At week 8, adjusted mean (standard error) changes from baseline in CDRS-R total score for the desvenlafaxine low exposure, desvenlafaxine high exposure, and placebo groups were -23.7 (1.1), -24.4 (1.1), and -22.9 (1.1), respectively. The incidence of adverse events was similar among groups. Conclusion: Low and high exposure desvenlafaxine groups did not demonstrate efficacy for the treatment of MDD in children and adolescents in this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Desvenlafaxine (20-50 mg/day) was generally safe and well tolerated with no new safety signals identified in pediatric patients with MDD in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • adolescents
  • children
  • clinical trial
  • desvenlafaxine
  • major depressive disorder
  • treatment efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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