Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are the mainstay in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Patients who do not respond adequately to SRIs commonly receive augmentation therapy with another agent, usually an atypical antipsychotic drug. Atypical antipsychotics, however, may not be appropriate for or acceptable to all patients. Ondansetron is an experimental alternative for such patients. There have been at least 6 trials that have examined a short-term (8-12 weeks) role for ondansetron in patients with OCD. These include 1 placebo-controlled crossover trial (N = 11); 1 uncontrolled monotherapy trial (N = 8); 2 low-dose (0.5-1.0 mg/d), uncontrolled augmentation trials in patients who did not respond adequately to ongoing or earlier treatments (pooled N = 35); and 2 moderate- to high-dose (4-8 mg/d) randomized, placebo-controlled augmentation trials in patients with undocumented past treatment history (pooled N = 88). Ondansetron was modestly effective in the uncontrolled trials and strikingly effective in the controlled trials. Ondansetron was also very well tolerated in all of the studies. These enthusiastic observations must be tempered by the limitations of the reviewed data, such as small sample sizes, short study durations, lack of data on the effects of blinded ondansetron discontinuation, lack of long-term data, and study-specific limitations. At best, ondansetron (1-8 mg/d) may be considered an experimental SRI augmentation agent in OCD patients for whom augmentation with an atypical antipsychotic drug is problematic.
J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(1):e72-e75 (doi:10.4088/JCP.14f09704.)
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