Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by recurrent obsessions (persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses or images) or compulsions (repetitive behaviors), or both. Lifetime prevalence rates in the United State range from 1.2 to 2.4 percent of the population. The disorder can be a distressing and time-consuming illness that interferes with daily living. Members of the Clomipramine Collaborative Study Group conducted two randomized, placebo-controlled trials to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy and safety of clomipramine hydrochloride in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Clomipramine is a tripcyclic antidepressant drug with serotonergic properties.
The first study included 239 patients who had at least a two-year history of obsessive-compulsive disorder. A total of 209 patients completed the treatment protocol. The second study included 281 patients who had at least a one-year history of obssessive-compulsive disorder. A total of 255 patients completed the treatment.
The studies were double-blind parallel trials. After two-to four-week washout period, all of the patients entered a two-week, single-blind placebo period. After the single-blind placebo period, patients in both studies were randomized to receive either clomipramine or palcebo during a 10-week, dougble-blind period.
In both studies, a minimum dosage of 100 mg per day was required for continuation in the trial beyong the third week of treatment. Clomipramine was administered in increasing doses to a maximum of 300 mg daily. For most patients, the maximum dosage was between 150 mg and 250 mg daily. Treatment success was measured by standardized assessment scales, patient's self-ratings of therapeutic change and blinded physician evaluations. The patients were seen weekly during the study period.
At the end of 10 weeks, improvement on the assessment scales was significantly greater in the clomipramine groups than in the control groups. In addition, 55 percent of the patients receiving clomipramine considered themselves "very much" or "much" improved, compared with 10 percent of the control patients. Finally, physician evaluations also revealed significant improvements in patients receiving clomipramine treatment. Many patients taking clomipramine reported side effects typical of tricyclic antidepressant drugs, including dry mouth, dizziness, tremor, fatigue, somnolence and constipation.
The authors conclude that clomipramine is an effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder and is generally well tolerated. (Archives of General Psychiatry, August 1991, vol. 48, p. 730.)
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Academy of Family Physicians
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