Yale School of MedicineThe Yale OCD Research Clinic, based at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC) in New Haven, is currently running a range of studies, running the gamut from cognitive testing to neuroimaging to pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment studies.

They are currently conducting a new treatment study for adults with refractory OCD. They have been studying the FDA-approved drug riluzole for refractory OCD for over a decade and are now partnering with a local pharmaceutical startup, BioHaven (led by Yale’s own Vlad Coric), to test the efficacy of a riluzole prodrug (trigriluzole) that has better pharmacokinetics and tolerability than riluzole itself.

Patients for this study must have a diagnosis of OCD that is their primary psychiatric problem and must be stably medicated on an SSRI or clomipramine. Certain other antidepressants are permitted, as is stable (but not new) therapy and low-dose benzodiazepine use. The study consists of a placebo-controlled, blinded 12-week treatment phase, followed by an optional 48-week open-label continuation phase.

There are several features of this study that may make it more attractive to patients than a typical industry-sponsored drug study. First, trigriluzole is converted into riluzole in the body, and we know a great deal about riluzole’s tolerability. We also believe, based on our published research, that riluzole helps some individuals with refractory OCD. So the new drug, trigriluzole, is much less of an unknown than many novel drugs in pharmaceutical studies. Second, because of the open-label follow-up phase, everyone who enters the study has an opportunity to try the new drug. Third, since the drug’s mechanism is the same as that of riluzole, patients who get some clinical benefit during the trial can continue treatment (with rilzuole) without interruption, even if there is a delay in getting the new drug approved by the FDA.

Interested patients who would like to participate in this exciting trial can contact Christopher Pittenger, MD, PhD, director of the Yale OCD Research Clinic, by email at