- escitalopram oxalate
POM: Prescription only medicine
This information is intended for use by health professionals
Major depressive episodesUsual dosage is 10 mg (10 drops) once daily. Depending on individual patient response, the dose may be increased to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) daily.Usually 2-4 weeks are necessary to obtain antidepressant response. After the symptoms resolve, treatment for at least 6 months is required for consolidation of the response.
Panic disorder with or without agoraphobiaAn initial dose of 5 mg (5 drops) is recommended for the first week before increasing the dose to 10 mg (10 drops) daily. The dose may be further increased, up to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) daily, dependent on individual patient response.Maximum effectiveness is reached after about 3 months. The treatment lasts several months.
Social anxiety disorderUsual dosage is 10 mg (10 drops) once daily. Usually 2-4 weeks are necessary to obtain symptom relief. The dose may subsequently, depending on individual patient response, be decreased to 5 mg (5 drops) or increased to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) daily.Social anxiety disorder is a disease with a chronic course, and treatment for 12 weeks is recommended to consolidate response. Long-term treatment of responders has been studied for 6 months and can be considered on an individual basis to prevent relapse; treatment benefits should be re-evaluated at regular intervals.Social anxiety disorder is a well-defined diagnostic terminology of a specific disorder, which should not be confounded with excessive shyness. Pharmacotherapy is only indicated if the disorder interferes significantly with professional and social activities.The place of this treatment compared to cognitive behavioural therapy has not been assessed. Pharmacotherapy is part of an overall therapeutic strategy.
Generalised anxiety disorderInitial dosage is 10 mg (10 drops) once daily. Depending on the individual patient response, the dose may be increased to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) daily.Long-term treatment of responders has been studied for at least 6 months in patients receiving 20 mg (20 drops) daily. Treatment benefits and dose should be re-evaluated at regular intervals (see Section 5.1).
Obsessive-compulsive disorderInitial dosage is 10 mg (10 drops) once daily. Depending on the individual patient response, the dose may be increased to a maximum of 20 mg (20 drops) daily.As OCD is a chronic disease, patients should be treated for a sufficient period to ensure that they are symptom free.Treatment benefits and dose should be re-evaluated at regular intervals (see section 5.1).
Elderly patients (> 65 years of age)Initial dosage is 5 mg (5 drops) once daily. Depending on individual patient response the dose may be increased to 10 mg (10 drops) daily (see section 5.2).The efficacy of Cipralex in social anxiety disorder has not been studied in elderly patients.
Children and adolescents (<18 years)Cipralex should not be used in the treatment of children and adolescents under the age of 18 years (see section 4.4).
Reduced renal functionDosage adjustment is not necessary in patients with mild or moderate renal impairment. Caution is advised in patients with severely reduced renal function (CLCR less than 30 ml/min.) (see section 5.2).
Reduced hepatic functionAn initial dose of 5 mg (5 drops) daily for the first two weeks of treatment is recommended in patients with mild or moderate hepatic impairment. Depending on individual patient response, the dose may be increased to 10 mg (10 drops) daily. Caution and extra careful dose titration is advised in patients with severely reduced hepatic function (see section 5.2).
Poor metabolisers of CYP2C19For patients who are known to be poor metabolisers with respect to CYP2C19, an initial dose of 5 mg (5 drops) daily during the first two weeks of treatment is recommended. Depending on individual patient response, the dose may be increased to 10 mg (10 drops) daily (see section 5.2).
Discontinuation symptoms seen when stopping treatmentAbrupt discontinuation should be avoided. When stopping treatment with escitalopram the dose should be gradually reduced over a period of at least one to two weeks in order to reduce the risk of discontinuation symptoms (see sections 4.4 and 4.8). If intolerable symptoms occur following a decrease in the dose or upon discontinuation of treatment, then resuming the previously prescribed dose may be considered. Subsequently, the physician may continue decreasing the dose, but at a more gradual rate.
Use in children and adolescents under 18 years of ageCipralex should not be used in the treatment of children and adolescents under the age of 18 years. Suicide related behaviours (suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts), and hostility (predominately aggression, oppositional behaviour and anger) were more frequently observed in clinical trials among children and adolescents treated with antidepressants compared to those treated with placebo. If, based on clinical need, a decision to treat is nevertheless taken, the patient should be carefully monitored for the appearance of suicidal symptoms. In addition, long-term safety data in children and adolescents concerning growth, maturation and cognitive and behavioural development are lacking.
Paradoxical anxietySome patients with panic disorder may experience increased anxiety symptoms at the beginning of treatment with antidepressants. This paradoxical reaction usually subsides within two weeks during continued treatment. A low starting dose is advised to reduce the likelihood of an anxiogenic effect (see section 4.2).
SeizuresEscitalopram should be discontinued if a patient develops seizures for the first time, or if there is an increase in seizure frequency (in patients with a previous diagnosis of epilepsy). SSRIs should be avoided in patients with unstable epilepsy, and patients with controlled epilepsy should be closely monitored.
ManiaSSRIs should be used with caution in patients with a history of mania/hypomania. SSRIs should be discontinued in any patient entering a manic phase.
DiabetesIn patients with diabetes, treatment with an SSRI may alter glycaemic control (hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia). Insulin and/or oral hypoglycaemic dosage may need to be adjusted.
Suicide/suicidal thoughts or clinical worseningDepression is associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, self harm and suicide (suicide-related events). This risk persists until significant remission occurs. As improvement may not occur during the first few weeks or more of treatment, patients should be closely monitored until such improvement occurs. It is general clinical experience that the risk of suicide may increase in the early stages of recovery.Other psychiatric conditions for which Cipralex is prescribed can also be associated with an increased risk of suicide-related events. In addition, these conditions may be co-morbid with major depressive disorder. The same precautions observed when treating patients with major depressive disorder should therefore be observed when treating patients with other psychiatric disorders. Patients with a history of suicide-related events, or those exhibiting a significant degree of suicidal ideation prior to commencement of treatment, are known to be at greater risk of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, and should receive careful monitoring during treatment. A meta analysis of placebo controlled clinical trials of antidepressant drugs in adult patients with psychiatric disorders showed an increased risk of suicidal behaviour with antidepressants compared to placebo in patients less than 25 years old. Close supervision of patients and in particular those at high risk should accompany drug therapy especially in early treatment and following dose changes.Patients (and caregivers of patients) should be alerted about the need to monitor for any clinical worsening, suicidal behaviour or thoughts and unusual changes in behaviour and to seek medical advice immediately if these symptoms present.
Akathisia/psychomotor restlessnessThe use of SSRIs/SNRIs has been associated with the development of akathisia, characterised by a subjectively unpleasant or distressing restlessness and need to move often accompanied by an inability to sit or stand still. This is most likely to occur within the first few weeks of treatment. In patients who develop these symptoms, increasing the dose may be detrimental.
HyponatraemiaHyponatraemia, probably due to inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH), has been reported rarely with the use of SSRIs and generally resolves on discontinuation of therapy. Caution should be exercised in patients at risk, such as the elderly, or patients with cirrhosis, or if used in combination with other medications which may cause hyponatraemia.
HaemorrhageThere have been reports of cutaneous bleeding abnormalities, such as ecchymoses and purpura, with SSRIs. Caution is advised in patients taking SSRIs, particularly in concomitant use with oral anticoagulants, with medicinal products known to affect platelet function (e.g. atypical antipsychotics and phenothiazines, most tricyclic antidepressants, acetylsalicylic acid and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicinal products (NSAIDs), ticlopidine and dipyridamole) and in patients with known bleeding tendencies.
ECT (electroconvulsive therapy)There is limited clinical experience of concurrent administration of SSRIs and ECT, therefore caution is advisable.
Serotonin syndromeCaution is advisable if escitalopram is used concomitantly with medicinal products with serotonergic effects such as sumatriptan or other triptans, tramadol and tryptophan.In rare cases, serotonin syndrome has been reported in patients using SSRIs concomitantly with serotonergic medicinal products. A combination of symptoms, such as agitation, tremor, myoclonus and hyperthermia may indicate the development of this condition. If this occurs treatment with the SSRI and the serotonergic medicinal product should be discontinued immediately and symptomatic treatment initiated.St. John's wortConcomitant use of SSRIs and herbal remedies containing St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) may result in an increased incidence of adverse reactions (see section 4.5).
Discontinuation symptoms seen when stopping treatmentDiscontinuation symptoms when stopping treatment are common, particularly if discontinuation is abrupt (see section 4.8). In clinical trials adverse events seen on treatment discontinuation occurred in approximately 25% of patients treated with escitalopram and 15% of patients taking placebo.The risk of discontinuation symptoms may be dependent on several factors including the duration and dose of therapy and the rate of dose reduction. Dizziness, sensory disturbances (including paraesthesia and electric shock sensations), sleep disturbances (including insomnia and intense dreams), agitation or anxiety, nausea and/or vomiting, tremor, confusion, sweating, headache, diarrhoea, palpitations, emotional instability, irritability, and visual disturbances are the most commonly reported reactions. Generally these symptoms are mild to moderate, however, in some patients they may be severe in intensity.They usually occur within the first few days of discontinuing treatment, but there have been very rare reports of such symptoms in patients who have inadvertently missed a dose.Generally these symptoms are self-limiting and usually resolve within 2 weeks, though in some individuals they may be prolonged (2-3 months or more). It is therefore advised that escitalopram should be gradually tapered when discontinuing treatment over a period of several weeks or months, according to the patient's needs (see Discontinuation symptoms seen when stopping treatment, section 4.2).
Coronary heart diseaseDue to limited clinical experience, caution is advised in patients with coronary heart disease (see section 5.3).
QT interval prolongationEscitalopram has been found to cause a dose-dependent prolongation of the QT interval. Cases of QT interval prolongation and ventricular arrhythmia including torsade de pointes have been reported during the post-marketing period, predominantly in patients of female gender, with hypokalaemia, or with pre-existing QT interval prolongation or other cardiac diseases (see sections 4.3, 4.5, 4.8, 4.9 and 5.1).Caution is advised in patients with significant bradycardia; or in patients with recent acute myocardial infarction or uncompensated heart failure.Electrolyte disturbances such as hypokalaemia and hypomagnesaemia increase the risk for malignant arrhythmias and should be corrected before treatment with escitalopram is started.If patients with stable cardiac disease are treated, an ECG review should be considered before treatment is started.If signs of cardiac arrhythmia occur during treatment with escitalopram, the treatment should be withdrawn and an ECG should be performed.
Angle-Closure GlaucomaSSRIs including escitalopram may have an effect on pupil size resulting in mydriasis. This mydriatic effect has the potential to narrow the eye angle resulting in increased intraocular pressure and angle-closure glaucoma, especially in patients pre-disposed. Escitalopram should therefore be used with caution in patients with angle-closure glaucoma or history of glaucoma.This medicinal product contains a small amount of ethanol (alcohol), less than 100 mg per dose. Each drop contains 4.7 mg ethanol.
Irreversible non-selective MAOIsCases of serious reactions have been reported in patients receiving an SSRI in combination with a non-selective, irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), and in patients who have recently discontinued SSRI treatment and have been started on such MAOI treatment (see section 4.3). In some cases, the patient developed serotonin syndrome (see section 4.8).Escitalopram is contraindicated in combination with non-selective, irreversible MAOIs. Escitalopram may be started 14 days after discontinuing treatment with an irreversible MAOI. At least 7 days should elapse after discontinuing escitalopram treatment, before starting a non-selective, irreversible MAOI.
Reversible, selective MAO-A inhibitor (moclobemide)Due to the risk of serotonin syndrome, the combination of escitalopram with a MAO-A inhibitor such as moclobemide is contraindicated (see section 4.3). If the combination proves necessary, it should be started at the minimum recommended dosage and clinical monitoring should be reinforced.
Reversible, non-selective MAO-inhibitor (linezolid)The antibiotic linezolid is a reversible non-selective MAO-inhibitor and should not be given to patients treated with escitalopram. If the combination proves necessary, it should be given with minimum dosages and under close clinical monitoring (see section 4.3).
Irreversible, selective MAO-B inhibitor (selegiline)In combination with selegiline (irreversible MAO-B inhibitor), caution is required due to the risk of developing serotonin syndrome. Selegiline doses up to 10 mg/day have been safely co-administered with racemic citalopram.
QT interval prolongationPharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies of escitalopram combined with other medicinal products that prolong the QT interval have not been performed. An additive effect of escitalopram and these medicinal products cannot be excluded. Therefore, co-administration of escitalopram with medicinal products that prolong the QT interval, such as Class IA and III antiarrhythmics, antipsychotics (e.g. phenothiazine derivatives, pimozide, haloperidol), tricyclic antidepressants, certain antimicrobial agents (e.g. sparfloxacin, moxifloxacin, erythromycin IV, pentamidine, anti-malarial treatment particularly halofantrine), certain antihistamines (e.g. astemizole, mizolastine), is contraindicated.
Combinations requiring precautions for use:
Serotonergic medicinal productsCo-administration with serotonergic medicinal products (e.g. tramadol, sumatriptan and other triptans) may lead to serotonin syndrome.
Medicinal products lowering the seizure thresholdSSRIs can lower the seizure threshold. Caution is advised when concomitantly using other medicinal products capable of lowering the seizure threshold (e.g antidepressants (tricyclics, SSRIs), neuroleptics (phenothiazines, thioxanthenes and butyrophenones), mefloquin, bupropion and tramadol).
Lithium, tryptophanThere have been reports of enhanced effects when SSRIs have been given together with lithium or tryptophan, therefore concomitant use of SSRIs with these medicinal products should be undertaken with caution.St. John's wortConcomitant use of SSRIs and herbal remedies containing St. John´s wort (Hypericum perforatum) may result in an increased incidence of adverse reactions (see section 4.4).
HaemorrhageAltered anti-coagulant effects may occur when escitalopram is combined with oral anticoagulants. Patients receiving oral anticoagulant therapy should receive careful coagulation monitoring when escitalopram is started or stopped (see section 4.4). Concomitant use of non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase bleeding-tendency (see section 4.4).
AlcoholNo pharmacodynamic or pharmacokinetic interactions are expected between escitalopram and alcohol. However, as with other psychotropic medicinal products, the combination with alcohol is not advisable.
Medicinal products inducing hypokalaemia/hypomagnesaemiaCaution is warranted for concomitant use of hypokalaemia/hypomagnesameia inducing medicinal products, as these conditions increase the risk of malignant arrhythmias (see section 4.4)Pharmacokinetic interactionsInfluence of other medicinal products on the pharmacokinetics of escitalopramThe metabolism of escitalopram is mainly mediated by CYP2C19. CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 may also contribute to the metabolism although to a smaller extent. The metabolism of the major metabolite S-DCT (demethylated escitalopram) seems to be partly catalysed by CYP2D6.Co-administration of escitalopram with omeprazole 30 mg once daily (a CYP2C19 inhibitor) resulted in moderate (approximately 50%) increase in the plasma concentrations of escitalopram.Co-administration of escitalopram with cimetidine 400 mg twice daily (moderately potent general enzyme-inhibitor) resulted in a moderate (approximately 70%) increase in the plasma concentrations of escitalopram. Caution is advised when administering escitalopram in combination with cimetidine. Dose adjustment may be warranted.Thus, caution should be exercised when used concomitantly with CYP2C19 inhibitors (e.g. omeprazole, esomeprazole, fluvoxamine, lansoprazole, ticlopidine) or cimetidine. A reduction in the dose of escitalopram may be necessary based on monitoring of side-effects during concomitant treatment.
Effect of escitalopram on the pharmacokinetics of other medicinal productsEscitalopram is an inhibitor of the enzyme CYP2D6. Caution is recommended when escitalopram is co-administered with medicinal products that are mainly metabolised by this enzyme, and that have a narrow therapeutic index, e.g. flecainide, propafenone and metoprolol (when used in cardiac failure), or some CNS acting medicinal products that are mainly metabolised by CYP2D6, e.g. antidepressants such as desipramine, clomipramine and nortriptyline or antipsychotics like risperidone, thioridazine and haloperidol. Dosage adjustment may be warranted.Co-administration with desipramine or metoprolol resulted in both cases in a twofold increase in the plasma levels of these two CYP2D6 substrates.In vitro studies have demonstrated that escitalopram may also cause weak inhibition of CYP2C19. Caution is recommended with concomitant use of medicinal products that are metabolised by CYP2C19.
PregnancyFor escitalopram only limited clinical data are available regarding exposed pregnancies.Animal studies have shown reproductive toxicity (see section 5.3). Cipralex should not be used during pregnancy unless clearly necessary and only after careful consideration of the risk/benefit.Neonates should be observed if maternal use of Cipralex continues into the later stages of pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. Abrupt discontinuation should be avoided during pregnancy.The following symptoms may occur in the neonate after maternal SSRI/SNRI use in later stages of pregnancy: respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnoea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycaemia, hypertonia, hypotonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, lethargy, constant crying, somnolence and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms could be due to either serotonergic effects or discontinuation symptoms. In a majority of instances the complications begin immediately or soon (<24 hours) after delivery.Epidemiological data have suggested that the use of SSRIs in pregnancy, particularly in late pregnancy, may increase the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn (PPHN). The observed risk was approximately 5 cases per 1000 pregnancies. In the general population 1 to 2 cases of PPHN per 1000 pregnancies occur.
Breast-feedingIt is expected that escitalopram will be excreted into human milk. Consequently, breast-feeding is not recommended during treatment.
FertilityAnimal data have shown that citalopram may affect sperm quality (see section 5.3). Human case reports with some SSRIs have shown that an effect on sperm quality is reversible. Impact on human fertility has not been observed so far.
Tabulated list of adverse reactionsAdverse reactions known for SSRIs and also reported for escitalopram in either placebo-controlled clinical studies or as spontaneous post-marketing events are listed below by system organ class and frequency.Frequencies are taken from clinical studies; they are not placebo-corrected. Frequencies are defined as: very common (≥1/10), common (≥1/100 to <1/10), uncommon (≥1/1,000 to <1/100), rare (≥1/10,000 to <1/1,000), very rare (<1/10,000), or not known (cannot be estimated from the available data).
|System organ class||Frequency||Undesirable Effect|
|Blood and lymphatic system disorders||Not known||Thrombocytopenia|
|Immune system disorders||Rare||Anaphylactic reaction|
|Endocrine disorders||Not known||Inappropriate ADH secretion|
|Metabolism and nutrition disorders||Common||Decreased appetite, increased appetite, weight increased|
|Not known||Hyponatraemia, anorexia1|
|Psychiatric disorders||Common||Anxiety, restlessness, abnormal dreams Female and male: libido decreased Female: anorgasmia|
|Uncommon||Bruxism, agitation, nervousness, panic attack, confusional state|
|Rare||Aggression, depersonalisation, hallucination|
|Not known||Mania, suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviour2|
|Nervous system disorders||Very common||Headache|
|Common||Insomnia, somnolence, dizziness, paraesthesia, tremor|
|Uncommon||Taste disturbance, sleep disorder, syncope|
|Not known||Dyskinesia, movement disorder, convulsion, psychomotor restlessness/akathisia1|
|Eye disorders||Uncommon||Mydriasis, visual disturbance|
|Ear and labyrinth disorders||Uncommon||Tinnitus|
|Not known||Electrocardiogram QT prolonged Ventricular arrhythmia including torsade de pointes|
|Vascular disorders||Not known||Orthostatic hypotension|
|Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders||Common||Sinusitis, yawning|
|Gastrointestinal disorders||Very common||Nausea|
|Common||Diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, dry mouth|
|Uncommon||Gastrointestinal haemorrhages (including rectal haemorrhage)|
|Hepatobiliary disorders||Not known||Hepatitis, liver function test abnormal|
|Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders||Common||Sweating increased|
|Uncommon||Urticaria, alopecia, rash, pruritus|
|Not known||Ecchymosis, angioedemas|
|Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders||Common||Arthralgia, myalgia|
|Renal and urinary disorders||Not known||Urinary retention|
|Reproductive system and breast disorders||Common||Male: ejaculation disorder, impotence|
|Uncommon||Female: metrorrhagia, menorrhagia|
|Not known||Galactorrhoea Male: priapism|
|General disorders and administration site conditions||Common||Fatigue, pyrexia|
QT interval prolongationCases of QT interval prolongation and ventricular arrhythmia including torsade de pointes have been reported during the post-marketing period, predominantly in patients of female gender, with hypokalaemia, or with pre-existing QT interval prolongation or other cardiac diseases (see sections 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.9 and 5.1).
Class effectsEpidemiological studies, mainly conducted in patients 50 years of age and older, show an increased risk of bone fractures in patients receiving SSRIs and TCAs. The mechanism leading to this risk is unknown.
Discontinuation symptoms seen when stopping treatmentDiscontinuation of SSRIs/SNRIs (particularly when abrupt) commonly leads to discontinuation symptoms. Dizziness, sensory disturbances (including paraesthesia and electric shock sensations), sleep disturbances (including insomnia and intense dreams), agitation or anxiety, nausea and/or vomiting, tremor, confusion, sweating, headache, diarrhoea, palpitations, emotional instability, irritability, and visual disturbances are the most commonly reported reactions. Generally these events are mild to moderate and are self-limiting, however, in some patients they may be severe and/or prolonged. It is therefore advised that when escitalopram treatment is no longer required, gradual discontinuation by dose tapering should be carried out (see section 4.2 and 4.4).
Reporting of suspected adverse reactionsReporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard
ToxicityClinical data on escitalopram overdose are limited and many cases involve concomitant overdoses of other drugs. In the majority of cases mild or no symptoms have been reported. Fatal cases of escitalopram overdose have rarely been reported with escitalopram alone; the majority of cases have involved overdose with concomitant medications. Doses between 400 and 800 mg of escitalopram alone have been taken without any severe symptoms.
SymptomsSymptoms seen in reported overdose of escitalopram include symptoms mainly related to the central nervous system (ranging from dizziness, tremor, and agitation to rare cases of serotonin syndrome, convulsion, and coma), the gastrointestinal system (nausea/vomiting), and the cardiovascular system (hypotension, tachycardia, QT interval prolongation, and arrhythmia) and electrolyte/fluid balance conditions (hypokalaemia, hyponatraemia).
ManagementThere is no specific antidote. Establish and maintain an airway, ensure adequate oxygenation and respiratory function. Gastric lavage and the use of activated charcoal should be considered. Gastric lavage should be carried out as soon as possible after oral ingestion. Cardiac and vital signs monitoring are recommended along with general symptomatic supportive measures.ECG monitoring is advised in case of overdose in patients with congestive heart failure/bradyarrhythmias, in patients using concomitant medications that prolong the QT interval, or in patients with altered metabolism, e.g. liver impairment.
Mechanism of actionEscitalopram is a selective inhibitor of serotonin (5-HT) re-uptake with high affinity for the primary binding site. It also binds to an allosteric site on the serotonin transporter, with a 1000 fold lower affinity.Escitalopram has no or low affinity for a number of receptors including 5-HT1A, 5-HT2, DA D1 and D2 receptors, α1-, α2-, β-adrenoceptors, histamine H1, muscarine cholinergic, benzodiazepine, and opioid receptors.The inhibition of 5-HT re-uptake is the only likely mechanism of action explaining the pharmacological and clinical effects of escitalopram.
Pharmacodynamic effectsIn a double-blind, placebo-controlled ECG study in healthy subjects, the change from baseline in QTc (Fridericia-correction) was 4.3 ms (90% CI: 2.2, 6.4) at the 10 mg/day dose and 10.7 ms (90% CI: 8.6, 12.8) at the supratherapeutic dose 30 mg/day (see sections 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.8 and 4.9).Clinical efficacyMajor depressive episodesEscitalopram has been found to be effective in the acute treatment of major depressive episodes in three out of four double-blind, placebo controlled short-term (8-week) studies. In a long-term relapse prevention study, 274 patients who had responded during an initial 8-week open label treatment phase with escitalopram 10 or 20 mg/day, were randomised to continuation with escitalopram at the same dose, or to placebo, for up to 36 weeks. In this study, patients receiving continued escitalopram experienced a significantly longer time to relapse over the subsequent 36 weeks compared to those receiving placebo.
Social anxiety disorderEscitalopram was effective in both three short-term (12- week) studies and in responders in a 6-month relapse prevention study in social anxiety disorder. In a 24-week dose-finding study, efficacy of 5, 10 and 20 mg escitalopram has been demonstrated.
Generalised anxiety disorderEscitalopram in doses of 10 and 20 mg/day was effective in four out of four placebo-controlled studies.In pooled data from three studies with similar design comprising 421 escitalopram-treated patients and 419 placebo-treated patients there were 47.5% and 28.9% responders respectively and 37.1% and 20.8% remitters. Sustained effect was seen from week 1.Maintenance of efficacy of escitalopram 20mg/day was demonstrated in a 24 to 76 week, randomised, maintenance of efficacy study in 373 patients who had responded during the initial 12-week open-label treatment.
Obsessive-compulsive disorderIn a randomised, double-blind, clinical study, 20 mg/day escitalopram separated from placebo on the Y-BOCS total score after 12 weeks. After 24 weeks, both 10 and 20 mg/day escitalopram were superior as compared to placebo.Prevention of relapse was demonstrated for 10 and 20 mg/day escitalopram in patients who responded to escitalopram in a 16-week open-label period and who entered a 24-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled period.
AbsorptionAbsorption is almost complete and independent of food intake. (Mean time to maximum concentration (mean Tmax) is 4 hours after multiple dosing). The oral drops, solution is bioequivalent with Cipralex tablets, and the absolute bio-availability of escitalopram is expected to be about 80% as for citalopram.
DistributionThe apparent volume of distribution (Vd,β/F) after oral administration is about 12 to 26 L/kg. The plasma protein binding is below 80% for escitalopram and its main metabolites.
BiotransformationEscitalopram is metabolised in the liver to the demethylated and didemethylated metabolites. Both of these are pharmacologically active. Alternatively, the nitrogen may be oxidised to form the N-oxide metabolite. Both parent substance and metabolites are partly excreted as glucuronides. After multiple dosing the mean concentrations of the demethyl and didemethyl metabolites are usually 28-31% and <5%, respectively, of the escitalopram concentration. Biotransformation of escitalopram to the demethylated metabolite is mediated primarily by CYP2C19. Some contribution by the enzymes CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 is possible.
EliminationThe elimination half-life (t½ β) after multiple dosing is about 30 hours and the oral plasma clearance (Cloral) is about 0.6 L/min. The major metabolites have a significantly longer half-life. Escitalopram and major metabolites are assumed to be eliminated by both the hepatic (metabolic) and the renal routes, with the major part of the dose excreted as metabolites in the urine.LinearityThere is linear pharmacokinetics. Steady-state plasma levels are achieved in about 1 week. Average steady-state concentrations of 50 nmol/L (range 20 to 125 nmol/L) are achieved at a daily dose of 10 mg.
Elderly patients (> 65 years)Escitalopram appears to be eliminated more slowly in elderly patients compared to younger patients. Systemic exposure (AUC) is about 50 % higher in elderly compared to young healthy volunteers (see section 4.2).
Reduced hepatic functionIn patients with mild or moderate hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh Criteria A and B), the half-life of escitalopram was about twice as long and the exposure was about 60% higher than in subjects with normal liver function (see section 4.2).
Reduced renal functionWith racemic citalopram, a longer half-life and a minor increase in exposure have been observed in patients with reduced kidney function (CLcr 10-53 ml/min). Plasma concentrations of the metabolites have not been studied, but they may be elevated (see section 4.2).
PolymorphismIt has been observed that poor metabolisers with respect to CYP2C19 have twice as high a plasma concentration of escitalopram as extensive metabolisers. No significant change in exposure was observed in poor metabolisers with respect to CYP2D6 (see section 4.2).
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