Respite from Tics

Focalin shows promise for Tourette's and chronic tic disorders

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) While ADHD has been known to cause academic challenges for children and adolescents, tic disorders that sometimes accompany ADHD can affect a youth's social confidence as well.

A recent study has found that Focalin (dexmethylphenidate) might potentially reduce tics in children and adolescents with ADHD. Tourette's disorder and chronic tic disorders can involve compulsive muscle movements as well as verbal outbursts.

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Gholson J. Lyon, MD, PhD, an adjunct assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the NYU Child Study Center, and his team at the Center conducted the study. Thirteen subjects, ranging in age from 10 to 16, were enrolled, and 10 completed the study.

In the study, participants appeared at the testing location on two separate occasions. On the first, the subjects were administered Focalin. The next time they were given no medication, not even a placebo.

First, the participants underwent examination for the rate of tics. Next, the participants were examined again, but this time they were encouraged with a small monetary reward to see how long they could sit still without indulging their tic.

Results indicated that the one-time dose of Focalin reduced the incidence of tics in the participants. And, as expected, behavioral suppression of tics worked during the period it was in effect.

Interestingly, however, there was no combined effect. In other words, while Focalin reduced tics significantly for the youth while they were at baseline, it had no effect on the incidence of tics while the youth were focused on consciously suppressing them. The effect of Focalin was involuntary and automatic. It did not help the youth in the study to consciously suppress tics further than they would have without the Focalin.

In short, the study found that a Focalin regimen might help reduce tic occurrence in children and adolescents with ADHD and Tourette's disease over the long term. The study's sample size was small, though, and  the simple reduction in tics due to a one-time dose of Focalin should not be misconstrued to indicate that Focalin would work as a therapy for tics long-term. The researchers state that the matter should be studied further. 

This study was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 26, 2011
Last Updated:
October 4, 2012