Fluoxetine was the first molecule of a new generation of antidepressants, the Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). It is recurrently the paradigm for the development of any new therapy in the treatment of depression. Many controlled studies and meta-analyses were performed on Fluoxetine, to improve the understanding of its real impact in the psychiatric area. The main objective of this review is to assess the quality and the results reported in the meta-analyses published on Fluoxetine.
Published articles on Medline, Embase and Cochrane databases reporting meta-analyses were used as data sources for this review.
Articles found in the searches were reviewed by 2 independent authors, to assess if these were original meta-analyses. Only data belonging to the most recent and comprehensive meta-analytic studies were included in this review.
Data, based on a group of 9087 patients, who were included in 87 different randomized clinical trials, confirms that fluoxetine is safe and effective in the treatment of depression from the first week of therapy. Fluoxetine's main advantage over previously available antidepressants (TCAs) was its favorable safety profile, that reduced the incidence of early drop-outs and improved patient's compliance, associated with a comparable efficacy on depressive symptoms. In these patients, Fluoxetine has proven to be more effective than placebo from the first week of therapy.
Fluoxetine has shown to be safe and effective in the elderly population, as well as during pregnancy. Furthermore, it was not associated with an increased risk of suicide in the overall evaluation of controlled clinical trials.
The meta-analysis available on the use of Fluoxetine in the treatment of bulimia nervosa shows that the drug is as effective as other agents with fewer patients dropping out of treatment.
Fluoxetine has demonstrated to be as effective as chlomipramine in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder (OCD).
Fluoxetine can be considered a drug successfully used in several diseases for its favorable safety/efficacy ratio. As the response rate of mentally ill patients is strictly related to each patient's personal characteristics, any new drug in this area, will have to be developed under these considerations.