Safety and Efficacy of Flexible-Dose Deutetrabenazine in Children and Adolescents With Tourette Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Oct 1;4(10):e2128204. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.28204.


Importance: Tourette syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by childhood onset of motor and phonic tics; treatments for tics are associated with safety concerns. Deutetrabenazine is a selective vesicular monoamine transporter 2 inhibitor approved for the treatment of chorea associated with Huntington disease and tardive dyskinesia in adults.

Objective: To examine whether deutetrabenazine is effective and safe for the treatment of Tourette syndrome in children and adolescents.

Design, setting, and participants: This phase 2/3, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, dose-titration study included children and adolescents (aged 6-16 years) with Tourette syndrome with active tics causing distress or impairment (ie, Yale Global Tic Severity Scale-Total Tic Score [YGTSS-TTS] ≥20). The trial was conducted over 12 weeks, with 1 week of follow-up from February 2018 to November 2019 at 36 centers in the United States, Canada, Denmark, Russia, Serbia, and Spain. Data analysis was conducted from January 31 to April 22, 2020.

Intervention: Patients were randomized (1:1) to receive deutetrabenazine or placebo, titrated during 7 weeks to an optimal level, followed by a 5-week maintenance period. The maximum total daily deutetrabenazine dose was 48 mg/d.

Main outcomes and measures: The primary efficacy end point was change from baseline to week 12 in YGTSS-TTS. Key secondary end points included changes in Tourette Syndrome-Clinical Global Impression, Tourette Syndrome-Patient Global Impression of Impact, and Child and Adolescent Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome-Quality of Life Activities of Daily Living subscale score. Safety was assessed based on treatment-emergent adverse events, vital signs, questionnaires, and laboratory parameters.

Results: A total of 119 participants were randomized to deutetrabenazine (59 participants; mean [SD] age, 11.5 [2.5] years; 53 [90%] boys; 49 [83%] White; 3 [5%] Black) and placebo (60 participants; mean [SD] age, 11.5 [2.6] years; 51 [85%] boys; 53 [88%] White; 3 [5%] Black). At week 12, the difference in YGTSS-TTS score was not significant between deutetrabenazine and placebo (least squares mean difference, -0.7; 95% CI, -4.1 to 2.8; P = .69; Cohen d, -0.07). There were no nominally significant differences between groups for key secondary end points. Treatment-emergent adverse events were reported for 38 patients (66%) and 33 patients (56%) receiving deutetrabenazine and placebo, respectively, and were generally mild or moderate.

Conclusions and relevance: In this study of deutetrabenazine in children and adolescents with Tourette syndrome, the primary efficacy end point was not met. No new safety signals were identified. These results may be informative for future studies of treatments for tics in Tourette syndrome.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT03452943.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Safety / standards*
  • Patient Safety / statistics & numerical data
  • Tetrabenazine / administration & dosage
  • Tetrabenazine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tetrabenazine / standards
  • Tourette Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Tourette Syndrome / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome*


  • deutetrabenazine
  • Tetrabenazine

Associated data