Teva Pharmaceuticals recently announced that in a couple of studies, deutetrabenazine did not prove statistically superior to placebo for treatment of Tourette syndrome in youth.* This honestly comes as a big surprise to me (and of course to the sponsor). Although without controlled trial evidence, its parent drug tetrabenazine had been used for tics for a couple of decades, with very promising results from an open case series. And it was known to help with other disorders of excessive movement, like chorea. However, just over a year ago, competitor Neurocrine Biosciences also announced disappointing results in TS for its similar drug, valbenazine. While it remains possible that these two drugs in fact work for tics, and these studies were just unlucky, the similar results for these two drugs suggests that alternatively they simply do not work well, at least at these doses. These results highlight the crucial importance of placebo-controlled research studies in testing whether any new treatment actually works. Just because I started a new treatment and I’m better does not mean the new treatment actually works.
Dr. Black was through last year on a speakers bureau for Teva, and received research funding a couple of years ago from Neurocrine to participate in a study of valbenazine in TS.