Sexual dysfunction occurs in 40%-60% of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), due to either the illness itself and/or the effects of antidepressant treatment. The phase-2 CLARITY trial recently demonstrated the efficacy of adjunctive pimavanserin (PIM) for MDD when added to ongoing selective serotonin or serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSRI/SNRI) treatment. No new safety observations were reported in this study. This post-hoc analysis examines the potential impact of PIM treatment on sexual function.
Study methodology has been presented previously (APA 2019). Adult male and female patients with moderate-to-severe MDD were randomized to PIM 34 mg/day (n=51) or placebo (PBO, n=152) added to ongoing SSRI/SNRI treatment. Massachusetts General Hospital–Sexual Functioning Inventory (MGH-SFI) and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, 17-item version (HAMD-17) item 14 (sexual interest) scores were examined by analysis of covariance.
Adjunctive PIM resulted in significantly greater 5-week reduction (improvement) relative to SSRI/SNRI treatment plus placebo on mean MGH-SFI scores (difference –0.634, SE 0.167; P<0.001; effect size [ES], Cohen’s d 0.614). Similarly, PIM resulted in greater improvement compared with placebo on individual MGH-SFI items that applied to both males and females: Interest in Sex (P=0.006; ES=0.483), Ability to Get Sexually Aroused/Excited (P=0.001; ES=0.560), Ability to Achieve Orgasm (P<0.001; ES=0.609), Overall Sexual Satisfaction (P=0.003; ES=0.524). HAMD-17 item 14 scores were also significantly more reduced (improved) with PIM (P<0.001; ES=0.574).
These results underscore the potential of adjunctive PIM for improving sexual function in patients with MDD and inadequate response to SSRIs/SNRIs. Potential benefits should be confirmed in further studies.
ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc.