Escitalopram: A Pharmacoeconomic Review of its Use in Depression
Katherine F. Croom
Greg L. Plosker
Escitalopram (Cipralex(R)), a new highly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is the active S-enantiomer of RS-citalopram. It is effective in the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and may have a faster onset of therapeutic effect than citalopram. It has also been shown to lead to improvements in measures of QOL. Escitalopram is generally well tolerated, with nausea being the most common adverse event associated with its use. Modelled The mean number of QALYs gained during the 6-month period was similar for all drugs evaluated, but direct costs were lower with escitalopram, leading to lower cost-utility ratios than for comparators. Incremental analyses performed in two of the studies confirmed the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility advantage of escitalopram. A prospective, 8-week comparative pharmacoeconomic analysis found that escitalopram achieved similar efficacy to venlafaxine XR, but was associated with 40% lower direct costs ( In both the modelled and prospective analyses, the differences in overall direct costs were mainly due to lower secondary care costs (in particular those related to hospitalisation) with escitalopram. In the prospective analysis, escitalopram had lower estimated drug acquisition costs than venlafaxine XR. Conclusion: Escitalopram, the S-enantiomer of RS-citalopram and a highly selective SSRI, is an effective antidepressant in patients with MDD, has a favourable tolerability profile, and, on the basis of available data, appears to have a rapid onset of therapeutic effect. Modelled pharmacoeconomic analyses from Western Europe suggest that it may be a cost-effective alternative to generic citalopram, generic fluoxetine and sertraline. Although the available data are less conclusive in comparison with venlafaxine XR, escitalopram is at least as cost effective as the SNRI based on a prospective study, and potentially more cost effective based on modelled analyses. Overall, clinical and pharmacoeconomic data support the use of escitalopram as first-line therapy in patients with MDD.
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