Objective: To test the hypothesis that atomoxetine does not significantly worsen tic severity relative to placebo in children and adolescents with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and comorbid tic disorders.
Methods: Study subjects were 7 to 17 years old, met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV criteria for ADHD, and had concurrent Tourette syndrome or chronic motor tic disorder. Patients were randomly assigned to double-blind treatment with placebo (n = 72) or atomoxetine (0.5 to 1.5 mg/kg/day, n = 76) for up to 18 weeks.
Results: Atomoxetine treatment was associated with greater reduction of tic severity at endpoint relative to placebo, approaching significance on the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale total score (-5.5 +/- 6.9 vs -3.0 +/- 8.7, p = 0.063) and Tic Symptom Self-Report total score (-4.7 +/- 6.5 vs -2.9 +/- 5.2, p = 0.095) and achieving significance on the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) tic/neurologic severity scale score (-0.7 +/- 1.2 vs -0.1 +/- 1.0, p = 0.002). Atomoxetine patients also showed greater improvement on the ADHD Rating Scale total score (-10.9 +/- 10.9 vs -4.9 +/- 10.3, p < 0.001) and CGI severity of ADHD/psychiatric symptoms scale score (-0.8 +/- 1.1 vs -0.3 +/- 1.0, p = 0.015). Discontinuation rates were not significantly different between treatment groups. Atomoxetine patients had greater increases in heart rate and decreases of body weight, and rates of treatment-emergent decreased appetite and nausea were higher. No other clinically relevant treatment differences were seen in any other vital sign, adverse event, or electrocardiographic or laboratory measures.
Conclusions: Atomoxetine did not exacerbate tic symptoms. Rather, there was some evidence of reduction in tic severity with a significant reduction of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Atomoxetine treatment appeared safe and well tolerated.