Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by involuntary muscle movements manifesting as motor and vocal tics. In the majority, tics are manageable without medication. Where tics cause discomfort or impair function, behavioural or pharmaceutical treatments may be considered.
To provide a meticulous examination of the quality of evidence for the current pharmacological treatments for TS.
PubMed and Google Scholar were searched to identify randomised, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of aripiprazole, risperidone, clonidine, guanfacine, haloperidol, pimozide, tiapride and sulpiride for the treatment of tics in children and adults with TS. Quality of reporting and risk of bias were assessed against the CONSORT checklist and Cochrane risk of bias criteria, respectively.
Seventeen RCTs were identified. Response rates reached 88.6% for aripiprazole, 68.9% for clonidine, 62.5% for risperidone and 19% for guanfacine. Statistically significant improvements were reported for all medications compared to placebo in at least one study and for at least one measure of tic severity. Most studies predated the CONSORT and Cochrane criteria and did not score highly when assessed on these measures.
There are relatively few placebo-controlled trials of commonly prescribed medications. Studies are often of poor quality and short duration. There is evidence for the efficacy of each medication, but no drug is clearly superior. Clonidine and guanfacine are better tolerated than antipsychotics, but less effective. There is too little evidence to determine whether adults respond differently from children. Copyright © The Author(s) 2021.
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