- Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services
- April 2012 - Volume 50 · Issue 4: 17-20
Previous reviews have focused on the potential cardiac toxicity of the racemic drug citalopram (Celexa®). Evaluating the safety of escitalopram (Lexapro®) is an important issue to consider, since it is the S-enantiomer of citalopram. Escitalopram has a small effect on the QTc interval. A prolonged QTc was seen in 2% to 14% of escitalopram overdose cases, without serious cardiac sequelae. The QTc prolongation effect of citalopram in beagle dogs has been attributed to the minor metabolite racemic didemethylcitalopram (DDCT). Whether the escitalopram minor metabolite S-DDCT has this effect is not known. Concentrations of S-DDCT are lower than DDCT, but for a broad range of doses of escitalopram and citalopram, the S-DDCT and DDCT concentrations are well below the QTc prolonging concentrations reported in dogs. There is no strong evidence from human and animal studies that the cardiac safety of escitalopram is significantly superior to that of citalopram.
Dr. Howland is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.
Address correspondence to Robert H. Howland, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; e-mail: HowlandRH@upmc.edu.