Results from an international study have shown that Servier's Valdoxan (agomelatine) is more effective than Prozac (fluoxetine), the world's most widely prescribed antidepressant.
The study concluded that agomelatine had superior efficacy compared to fluoxetine in people with major depressive disorder.
The outcome was based on previous data that showed that during the first week of treatment, agomelatine works in twice as many people compared to another rival venlafaxine (Efexor).
Agomelatine was also not associated with debilitating side effects that may be seen with other commonly prescribed antidepressants such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction and sleep difficulties.
University of Kent head of division of psychiatry and lead trial investigator Tony Hale said that these results add to the growing wealth of evidence supporting agomelatine as a new and important alternative for the treatment of depression.
"With its innovative mode of action, rapid response rate and fewer side effects, agomelatine represents a viable new option for people with this common and disabling mental health disorder," Hale said.
The novel action of agomelatine targets the part of the brain that is the hub of circadian rhythm control and the in-built clock that governs behaviours such as mood, alertness and thinking and regulates sleeping and waking cycles.
The drug works by re-synchronising the body's natural circadian rhythm and by acting on receptors in the brain to increase levels of dopamine and noradrenaline that affect mood and are known to be reduced in people with depression.
Valdoxan received EU marketing authorisation in February 2009 and is now available in Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Russia.