Condition category
Circulatory System
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Prospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting
Publication status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Fluoxetine is an effective and safe drug which has been successfully used for many years to relieve depression. There is now also evidence from small trials that fluoxetine might have other effects on the brain e.g. generation of new brain cells, which might help patients make a better recovery from the physical effects of their stroke. For example, a recent small trial from France suggested that fluoxetine might improve the recovery of strength in stroke patients with residual arm weakness. The aim of this trial is to find out whether fluoxetine, given for 6 months, improves recovery if started in stroke patients who are between 2 and 15 days after their stroke.

Who can participate?
Stroke patients who had a stroke between 2 and 15 days previously can participate, providing they are at least 18 years of age, have had a brain scan that is compatible with a stroke (either due to a bleed or a blood clot in the brain), and still have some residual problems caused by the stroke e.g. weakness in the arm or leg. Stroke patients cannot participate if they are taking medication that might interact with fluoxetine, e.g. a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (a type of antidepressant), or if they have had seizures in the past or if they are seriously ill with other medical problems.

What does the study involve?
Researchers will collect information about the type of stroke the patients have had. Then, half the patients will be randomly allocated to fluoxetine capsules for 6 months, and the other half to an identical 'placebo' capsule for 6 months. At hospital discharge, or at 1 month for patients who did not require hospital admission, the researchers will check whether participants are still taking the trial capsules and whether they have experienced any adverse effects. At 3 months, the researchers will contact the participants to check whether they are still taking the capsules, and ask about adverse effects. At six and 12 months after recruitment, participants will be asked to complete questionnaires about their overall recovery from the stroke, and about common problems after stroke e.g. weakness in limbs, memory problems, problems with speech, low mood. These questionnaires can be completed on paper, via the secure trial website or by telephone. If patients cannot complete the forms themselves, their next of kin or carer will be asked to do this. General practitioners will also be contacted at 6 months and 12 months to enquire about any medical problems and use of health care resources e.g. attendance at hospital, new medications. Patients' involvement will end 12 months after recruitment. The researchers will collect data on long-term recovery through national statistics.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
If fluoxetine improves recovery from stroke, those patients allocated fluoxetine may have benefited. However, fluoxetine may have side effects and it may not improve recovery from stroke.

Where is the study run from?
University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study will start recruiting patients in July 2012, and will recruit for about four years. Patients will be followed up for 1 year. The study is likely to end in October 2017.

Who is funding the study?
The Stroke Association (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Dr Gillian Mead

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Gillian Mead


Contact details

Royal Infirmary
49 Little France Crescent
EH16 4SA
United Kingdom
+44 (0)131 242 6481

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

2011-005616-29 number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Fluoxetine Or Control Under Supervision (FOCUS): a multicentre randomised trial to establish the effect(s) of routine administration of Fluoxetine in patients with a recent stroke



Study hypothesis

The routine administration of fluoxetine (20 mg daily) for 6 months after an acute stroke will improve patients' functional outcome.

Ethics approval

Scotland A Research Ethics Committee, 21/12/2011, ref: 11/SS/0100

Study design

Multicentre parallel-group double-blind placebo-controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a patient information sheet


Ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke


Fluoxetine 20 mg once daily or matching placebo capsules for 6 months.

Intervention type



Not Applicable

Drug names


Primary outcome measure

Modified Rankin scale at 6 months

Secondary outcome measures

1. Deaths from all causes at 6 and 12 months
2. Modified Rankin scale at 12 months
3. Stroke Impact Scale
4. Euroquol 5D-5L
5. Mental Health Inventory 5
6. Vitality subscale of SF36 (as an assessment of fatigue)
7. Diagnosis of depression
8. Other adverse events
9. Adherence to the trial medication
10. Health and social care resources used during follow up

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Age > 18 years
2. Brain imaging is compatible with intracerebral haemorrhage or ischaemic stroke
3. Randomisation can be performed between 2 and 15 days after stroke onset
4. Persisting focal neurological deficit is present at the time of randomisation severe enough to warrant 6 months trial treatment from the patient's or carer's perspective

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Total final enrolment


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Subarachnoid haemorrhage
2. Unlikely to be available for follow up at 12 months
3. Patient and/or carer unable to understand spoken or written English
4. Other life-threatening illness
5. Pregnant or breast-feeding or of child bearing age not taking contraception
6. History of epileptic seizures
7. Attempted suicide or self-harm
8. Allergy or contra indication to fluoxetine
9. Taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor in last 5 weeks
10. Current or recent depression requiring treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
11. Already participating in a Clinical Trial of an Investigational Medical Product

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Royal Infirmary
EH16 4SA
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian (UK)

Sponsor details

c/co Marise Bucukoglu
The Queen’s Medical Research Institute
47 Little France Crescent
EH16 4TJ
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

Stroke Association ref: TSA 2011101

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Associations and societies (private and public)


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Planned publication in a high-impact peer-reviewed journal and announcement of results at the UK stroke forum meeting.

IPD sharing statement: The data sharing plans for the current study are unknown and will be made available at a later date.

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

To be made available at a later date

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

2015 protocol in
2017 statistical and health economic analysis plan in
2019 results in
2019 exploratory analyses in (added 01/04/2020)
2020 results in (added 27/05/2020)

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

27/05/2020: Publication reference added. 01/04/2020: Publication reference added. 14/06/2019: Publication reference and total final enrolment number added. 15/10/2018: The following updates were made: 1. The publication and dissemination plan was added. 2. The IPD sharing statement was added. 3. The participant level data was added. 4. The recruitment end date was changed from 01/07/2016 to 31/03/2017. 12/10/2018: The intention to publish date was added. 14/02/2018: Publication reference added. 05/05/2016: Publication reference added.