Escitalopram in the treatment of adolescent depression: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled extension trial

Robert L. Findling, Adelaide Robb, Anjana Bose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extended efficacy, safety, and tolerability of escitalopram relative to placebo in adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD). Methods: Adolescents (12-17 years) who completed an 8-week randomized, double-blind, flexible-dose, placebo-controlled, lead-in study of escitalopram 10-20 mg versus placebo could enroll in a 16-24-week, multisite extension trial; patients maintained the same lead-in randomization (escitalopram or placebo) and dosage (escitalopram 10 or 20 mg/day, or placebo) during the extension. The primary efficacy was Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) change from the lead-in study baseline to treatment week 24 (8-week lead-in study plus 16-week extension); the secondary efficacy was Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement (CGI-I) score at week 24. All efficacy analyses used the last observation carried forward (LOCF) approach; sensitivity analyses used observed cases (OC) and mixed-effects model for repeated measures (MMRM). Safety was evaluated via adverse event (AE) reports and the clinician-rated Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS). Results: Following lead-in, 165 patients enrolled in the double-blind extension (82 placebo; 83 escitalopram); 40 (48.8%) placebo and 37 (44.6%) escitalopram patients completed treatment. CDRS-R total score improvement was significantly greater for escitalopram than for placebo (p=0.005, LOCF; p=0.014; MMRM). Response rates (CDRS-R ≥40% reduction from baseline [adjusted and unadjusted] and CGI-I ≤2) were significantly higher for escitalopram than for placebo (LOCF); remission rates (CDRS-R ≤28) were 50.6% for escitalopram and 35.7% for placebo (p=0.002). OC analyses were not significantly different between groups. The most frequent escitalopram AEs (≥5% and more frequent than placebo) were headache, nausea, insomnia, vomiting, influenza-like symptoms, diarrhea, and urinary tract infection. Most AEs were mild/moderate and not related to the study drug. AEs suggestive of self-harm occurred in 5.7% and 7.1% of placebo and escitalopram patients. Occurrence of suicidal behavior and/or suicidal ideation assessed by C-SSRS was 10.9% (14/128) for placebo and 14.5% (19/131) for escitalopram. Conclusions: Extended use of escitalopram was generally safe and resulted in modest improvement in efficacy in adolescents with MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-480
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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