Reboxetine in the treatment of
depression in the elderly: pilot study

Andreoli V, Carbognin G, Abati A, Vantini G
Department of Psychiatry,
Ospedale San Giovanii Battista,
Soave, Italy.
J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol 1999 Winter; 12(4):206-10


Elderly patients are particularly susceptible to the potential side effects of current antidepressants due to agerelated physiologic changes. We report a pilot study to examine the tolerability of increasing doses of reboxetine, a selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (selective NRI), in elderly depressed patients. Twelve elderly female patients (75-87 years) with either major depression or dysthymia received reboxetine titrated to 8 mg/day over a 4-week period. Tolerability was assessed and included the measurement of vital signs. Electrocardiograms were recorded at baseline and on days 14 and 28. Newly emergent signs and symptoms were recorded throughout the study. Efficacy was assessed using four rating scales, including the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D). Eleven patients completed the study, nine received the maximal dose of reboxetine 8 mg/day, and two received maximum doses of reboxetine 6 mg/day due to cardiac rhythm changes in week 3. A total of five patients experienced tachycardia (including two with cardiac rhythm changes in week 3). At the end of the study, seven patients were "much" to "very much" improved on the CGI scale with a concomitant decrease in HAM-D total score of 22% to 41%. Reboxetine was well tolerated by the majority of patients and efficacy outweighed side effects in 75% of patients. Reboxetine 4 mg/day, increasing to 6 mg/day on the basis of individual patient tolerability, may be considered as a safe dose range for testing the efficacy and tolerability of reboxetine in long-term controlled clinical trials in elderly patients with depression.

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