First successful treatment of childhood OCD

1985

Challenge

Childhood-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects 1–2% of children and adolescents. Characterized by recurrent obsessions and compulsions, the illness can create severe distress as it interferes with daily life. A treatment was needed to effectively control symptoms in the pediatric population without concomitant adverse events.

Advance

Judith Rapoport, M.D., and colleagues evaluated 19 children with severe primary OCD as they completed a 10-week, double-blind, controlled clinical trial of the tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine hydrochloride or placebo, each of which was administered for five weeks. Half of the subjects had not responded to previous treatment with other tricyclic antidepressants. The study demonstrated significant improvements in observed and self-reported obsessions and compulsions and was well-tolerated, a first for a medication in pediatric OCD.

Impact

The team's research was the first to demonstrate a drug’s effectiveness in treating children with obsessive-compulsive disorder, which led the way for an eventual FDA approval of clomipramine in 1998 to help improve pediatric patients’ lives.

Publications

Flament MF, Rapoport JL, Berg CJ, Sceery W, Kilts C, Mellström B, Linnoila M. (1985). Clomipramine treatment of childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder. A double-blind controlled study. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 42(10), 977-83.