Fluoxetine is a new antidepressant agent which is a selective inhibitor of neuronal serotonin uptake; it has minimal affinity for muscarinic, dopaminergic, histaminic, serotonergic, or noradrenergic receptors (Stark et al, 1985). This specificity of activity suggests that fluoxetine may have a side-effect profile which is different from previously available antidepressants.
The safety of fluoxetine has been extensively studied: several hundred patients have received the drug continuously for more than one year - some have had therapy for 5 years or more. Previous reviews of the safety of fluoxetine (Wernicke, 1985; Zerbe, 1986) have described a smaller population of patients than is now available.
This review is drawn from data pooled from comparative clinical trials, which included 4336 patients: fluoxetine - 2938, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) - 599, and placebo - 799 patients. The TCAs studied were amitriptyline, imipramine, and doxepin. Most patients were adults with major depressive disorder, and the most common study design was a 6-week comparative double-blind phase, followed by unblinded long-term treatment. While the core of this study is a data base of 2938 fluoxetine-treated patients, all serious adverse events reported in over 7500 fluoxetine-treated patients worldwide, as of mid-1987, have been included.