Value of tianeptine in treating major recurrent unipolar depression.
Study versus placebo for 16 1/2 months of treatment

by
Dalery J, Dagens-Lafant V, De Bodinat C.
CHS Le Vinatler, Bron.
Encephale. 1997 Jan-Feb;23(1):56-64.


ABSTRACT

ABJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of tianeptine vs placebo in the long-term treatment of unipolar major recurrent depression. METHOD: 286 patients who met DSM-III-R criteria for major depression with a Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-21 items) score > or = 17, and with a history of at least one previous episode within the last 5 years, were treated in an open trial with tianeptine for 6 weeks. 185 patients who responded to treatment at day 42 (intent-to-treat) were randomly assigned to tianeptine 37.5 mg/day (n = 111), or placebo (n = 74). Among these patients 173 were strict responders to tianeptine (per-protocol-population), as defined in the present study by a 50% reduction in the HDRS score, a global score lower than 15 and confirmation by clinical evaluation. Both groups were comparable except for the severity of the depressive episode (significantly more severe in the tianeptine group (33%) than in the placebo group (18%)) (p = 0.018). Relapses and recurrences were defined by a HDRS score > or = 15, and/or a CGI score > or = 4, the recurrences being confirmed by the clinician. Patients were subsequently evaluated at day 63, and the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 15th and 18th month. RESULTS: Special attention was given to the number of relapses and recurrences, and to the delay of onset (Kaplan Meier Method). Between day 42 and 18th month (intent-to-treat group), the rate of relapses and recurrences was significantly higher in the placebo group (36%), than in the tianeptine group (16%) (p = 0.002). Long term comparison of the rate of patients without recurrence or relapse, also showed a significant difference in favour of tianeptine (p < 0.001). The difference between teh 2 groups increased within time. Secondary analysis of relapses and recurrence in the intent-to-treat group showed a significantly higher rate of relapses for the placebo group (p = 0.002); the rate of patients without recurrences in the long term appeared to be at the limit in the intent-to-treat group (p = 0.067) but significant in the per-protocol-group, in favour of tianeptine (p = 0.36). Furthermore, no difference was observed between the 2 groups, in terms of tolerance. Secondary effects attributed to treatment by investigators were rare and benign in each group. CONCLUSIONS: These data support the use of tianeptine in the long term treatment of unipolar major recurrent depression. Relapses and recurrences were 2 to 3 times less frequent with tianeptine as compared to placebo. Furthermore, prolonged treatment with tianeptine appeared to be very well tolerated.


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