Ondansetron treatment in Tourette's disorder: a 3-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

J Clin Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;66(4):499-503. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v66n0413.


Objective: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of ondansetron, a selective 5-HT(3) antagonist, in the treatment of Tourette's disorder.

Method: Participants (N = 30) aged 12 to 46 years, diagnosed with DSM-IV Tourette's disorder and resistant to previous haloperidol treatment, were enrolled in a 3-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled outpatient study. Assessments were conducted at baseline and once a week during the study period. Scales used included the Tourette's Syndrome Global Scale (TSGS), the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS), and the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. Ondansetron dose was 8, 16, and 24 mg/day in the first, second, and third weeks, respectively.

Results: A significant positive effect of ondansetron on tic severity, as assessed by the TSGS, was noted (baseline vs. endpoint: mean +/-SD = 29.62 +/-20.33 vs. 20.58 +/-12.82, p = .002 vs. placebo). However, no significant effect was detected upon assessing ondansetron/ placebo effect on tic severity with the YGTSS (baseline vs. endpoint: mean +/-SD = 24.04 +/-9.44 vs. 17.50 +/-9.48, p = .15 vs. placebo). No change in obsessive-compulsive symptoms was noted in either group. Adverse effects included mild and transient abdominal pain.

Conclusions: Ondansetron may have antitic effects in patients with Tourette's disorder. Large-scale, double-blind studies should further assess the antitic efficacy of ondansetron.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ondansetron / therapeutic use*
  • Placebos
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Serotonin Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tourette Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Tourette Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Tourette Syndrome / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Placebos
  • Serotonin Antagonists
  • Ondansetron