Back to Journals » Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment » Volume 15

Buprenorphine/samidorphan combination for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder: results of a phase III clinical trial (FORWARD-3)

Authors Zajecka JM, Stanford AD, Memisoglu A, Martin WF, Pathak S

Received 22 December 2018

Accepted for publication 11 February 2019

Published 4 April 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 795—808


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

John M Zajecka,1,2 Arielle D Stanford,3 Asli Memisoglu,4 William F Martin,5 Sanjeev Pathak3

1Department of Psychiatry, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA; 2Psychiatric Medicine Associates, LLC, Skokie, IL, USA; 3Department of Clinical Research, Alkermes, Inc., Waltham, MA, USA; 4Department of Biostatistics, Alkermes, Inc., Waltham, MA, USA; 5Clinical Operations, Alkermes, Inc., Waltham, MA, USA

Background: The endogenous opioid system is a fundamental regulator of mood in humans. Previously reported clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of the investigational agent buprenorphine/samidorphan (BUP/SAM) combination, an opioid-system modulator, for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder. We present here a third phase III study of different design.
Methods: Adult patients with major depressive disorder and inadequate response to antidepressant therapy were enrolled in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, placebo run-in study to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of adjunctive BUP/SAM 2 mg/2 mg. Patients with baseline Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score ≥20 received double-blind placebo in addition to background antidepressant therapy for 4 weeks. Nonresponders were randomized to receive adjunctive BUP/SAM 2 mg/2 mg or placebo for 6 weeks. The primary end point was change in Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS)-10 total score from randomization at baseline to the end of the 6-week treatment period.
Results: Least-squares mean change in MADRS-10 score at end of treatment was -4.8 (SE 0.67) in the BUP/SAM 2 mg/2 mg group and -4.6 (SE 0.66) in the placebo group (mean difference -0.3 [SE 0.95], P=0.782). There were no differences in MADRS-based response or remission rates. Overall, 42.9% of the BUP/SAM 2 mg/2 mg group and 34.5% of the placebo group experienced at least one treatment-emergent adverse event during the 6-week treatment period, most of which were mild or moderate in severity. There were no clinically important changes in laboratory parameters, weight, or vital signs and no evidence of abuse potential during treatment or opiate-withdrawal symptoms post treatment.
Conclusion: Efficacy results in FORWARD-3 measured by change in MADRS-10 score did not meet the primary end point, but postbaseline improvement in MADRS-10 in the BUP/SAM 2 mg/2 mg group was consistent with that seen in previously reported trials. BUP/SAM 2 mg/2 mg was well tolerated.

Keywords: buprenorphine, samidorphan, randomized clinical trial, adjunctive therapy, study design, placebo response, opioid system modulator

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]