The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology


Efficacy of escitalopram compared to citalopram: a meta-analysis

Stuart Montgomerya1 c1, Thomas Hansena2 and Siegfried Kaspera3

a1 University of London, UK

a2 H. Lundbeck A/S, Denmark

a3 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University Vienna, Austria


The aim of this review was to assess the clinical relevance of the relative antidepressant efficacy of escitalopram and citalopram by meta-analysis. Studies in major depressive disorder (MDD) with both escitalopram and citalopram treatment arms were identified. Adult patients had to meet DSM-IV criteria for MDD. The primary outcome measure was the treatment difference in Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score at week 8 (or last assessment if <8 wk). Secondary outcome measures were response (≥50% improvement from baseline) and remission (MADRS ≤12). A search of the literature and websites found eight randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and onr naturalistic trial, with a total of 2009 patients (escitalopram, n=995; citalopram, n=1014). Escitalopram was significantly more effective than citalopram in overall treatment effect, with an estimated mean treatment difference of 1.7 points at week 8 (or last assessment if <8 wk) on the MADRS (95% CI 0.8–2.6, p=0.0002) (six RCTs used the MADRS), and in responder rate (8.3 percentage points, 95% CI 4.4–12.3) (eight RCTs) and remitter rate (17.6 percentage points, 95% CI 12.1–23.1) analyses (reported for four RCTs), corresponding to number-needed-to-treat (NNT) values of 11.9 (p<0.0001) for response and 5.7 (p<0.0001) for remission. The overall odds ratios were 1.44 (p<0.0003) for response and 1.86 (p<0.0001) for remission, in favour of escitalopram. In this meta-analysis, the statistically significant superior efficacy of escitalopram compared to citalopram was shown to be clinically relevant.

(Received January 18 2010)

(Reviewed May 10 2010)

(Revised July 13 2010)

(Accepted August 19 2010)

(Online publication September 29 2010)


c1 Address for correspondence: Professor S. Montgomery, PO Box 8751, London W13 8WH, UK. Tel.: +44 20 8997 2689 Fax: +44 20 8566 7986 Email: