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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Milnacipran. A review of its use in depression.

Milnacipran is a cyclopropane derivative which acts by inhibiting noradrenaline (norepinephrine) and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) reuptake at presynaptic sites; no postsynaptic receptor activity has been demonstrated. It is most commonly administered at a dosage of 50 mg twice daily for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Improvement usually occurs within 2 weeks of treatment initiation, but some patients do respond sooner. Most studies which evaluated milnacipran were of short (4 to 8 weeks) duration and results were not published in full with rigorous peer review. Nonetheless, the drug is significantly more effective than placebo for the treatment of in- or outpatients with moderate to severe major depressive disorder. Limited data suggest that it may prevent relapse and be effective for long term use, although this requires confirmation. Milnacipran 200 mg/day is generally not significantly different from amitriptyline 150 mg/day in terms of onset and efficacy. However, when doses are titrated (not a requirement for milnacipran), milnacipran 50 or 100 mg/day has a slower onset than the tricyclic antidepressant. At a dosage of 100 mg/day for 4 to 12 weeks, milnacipran generally has similar efficacy to imipramine and clomipramine 150 mg/day, although milnacipran 50 to 150 mg/day had a faster onset of activity than imipramine 50 to 150 mg/day in Japanese patients. In a 6-month trial, milnacipran was less effective than clomipramine. Milnacipran 50 or 100 mg twice daily was as effective as fluoxetine 20 mg once daily or fluvoxamine 100 mg twice daily in 4- to 12-week studies. At a dosage of 50 then 100 mg daily it was also as effective as mianserin 30 then 60 mg daily in a 4-week study. However, when administered once daily (in the evening), milnacipran 100 mg/day was not as effective as fluoxetine 20 mg/day after 6 weeks. The drug is generally well tolerated, producing no more adverse events (including anticholinergic events) than placebo, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or mianserin and fewer adverse events than tricyclic antidepressants in clinical trials. However, dysuria has been reported in 7% of male patients receiving milnacipran. CONCLUSIONS: Data from predominantly short term trials suggest that milnacipran generally has similar efficacy to tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs. Although further published data are required to confirm its efficacy, good tolerability profile and pharmacokinetic profile which suggests a low potential for drug interactions, milnacipran should be considered a promising agent for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder.[1]


  1. Milnacipran. A review of its use in depression. Spencer, C.M., Wilde, M.I. Drugs (1998) [Pubmed]
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