FDA approves antidepressant Cymbalta (duloxetine HCl) for treatment of generalized anxiety disorder

Published on February 26, 2007 at 5:21 PM · No Comments

Eli Lilly and Company announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the antidepressant Cymbalta (duloxetine HCl) for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition that affects more than 6.5 million American adults in a given year.

Because GAD presents with a variety of symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose and may have a negative impact on a person's ability to function properly in work, family and social situations.

The safety and efficacy of Cymbalta in the treatment of GAD was established in three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in more than 800 non-depressed adults with GAD. In all studies, Cymbalta significantly improved core anxiety symptoms as measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA), compared with placebo. In addition, Cymbalta patients reported greater improvement in functional impairment associated with the illness, including improved ability to perform everyday activities at work, home, and in social situations.

"If left untreated, symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder may worsen, potentially impacting many aspects of a person's life, including their job and social relationships," said Susan Kornstein, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University. "With this approval, physicians and patients will be happy to know that there is another medication now available to treat this debilitating condition."

Cymbalta, a member of a class of drugs commonly referred to as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), has been studied in more than 25,000 patients worldwide and is already approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder and management of diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, both in adults.

"More than 4.5 million adults in the United States have been prescribed Cymbalta for major depressive disorder or diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain," said Mike Detke, M.D., Ph.D, Cymbalta medical director for Eli Lilly and Company. "We are excited to offer a new, approved treatment option for generalized anxiety disorder patients and are eager to continue our research with this medication."

In clinical trials, on average, patients treated with Cymbalta for generalized anxiety disorder experienced a 46 percent improvement in anxiety symptoms compared to 32 percent for those who took placebo, as measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Scale. In addition, patients in these studies experienced a 46 percent improvement in function compared to 26 percent for those who took placebo as measured by the Sheehan Disability Scale. The most common side effects in these studies included nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation, insomnia, decreased appetite, hyperhidrosis, decreased libido, vomiting, ejaculation delay and erectile dysfunction. In clinical trials, Cymbalta was studied in a dose range of 60-120 mg per day. While a 120mg/day dose was shown to be effective, there is no evidence that doses greater than 60mg/day confer additional benefit. Cymbalta comes in a capsule, and the target daily dose is 60 mg.

Approximately 6.5 million Americans are diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder each year. Symptoms persist for at least six months and can include exaggerated worry or chronic anxiety, irritability, poor concentration, sleep disturbance and fatigue. Generalized anxiety disorder may be brought on, or worsened by, stressful life events. The illness also tends to be chronic with periods of exacerbation and remission.

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