Pharmacologic Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Comparative Studies

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The predominant hypothesis about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) pathophysiology implicates abnormal serotonergic function regulation. Pharmacologic agents with potent serotonin reuptake-inhibiting properties have demonstrated effectiveness in treating OCD. In short-term clinical trials compared by meta-analysis, clomipramine and serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were found superior to placebo in improving symptoms of OCD. In one-to-one comparative studies, clomipramine has been found as efficacious as fluoxetine and fluvoxamine, and in a comparative trial of clomipramine with sertraline, there was a statistically superior response to sertraline after 16 weeks of treatment; moreover, discontinuation rate in patients taking clomipramine was more than twice that in patients taking sertraline (26% vs. 11%). In contrast to patients receiving clomipramine who showed poor tolerance in long-term use, patients maintained on fluoxetine for 24 weeks after an acute phase well tolerated the medication. In another study, patients responding to 12 weeks of sertraline treatment also showed improved tolerance during an additional 40-week period, with 75% completing the continuation phase. With long-term or even lifelong treatment appearing necessary for people with OCD, those agents that result in better tolerance will prove preferable.

J Clin Psychiatry 1997;58(suppl 12):18–22