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Mov Disord Clin Pract. 2017 Jul-Aug;4(4):582-585. doi: 10.1002/mdc3.12483. Epub 2017 Mar 29.

Tetrabenazine Versus Deutetrabenazine for Huntington's Disease: Twins or Distant Cousins?

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Huntington's Disease CenterInstitute of NeurologyUniversity College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom.
Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology and TherapeuticsFaculty of MedicineUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal.
Clinical Pharmacology UnitInstituto de Medicina MolecularLisbonPortugal.
Cochrane Movement Disorders GroupFaculty of MedicineUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal.
Center for Evidence-Based MedicineFaculty of MedicineUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal.



Tetrabenazine is the only US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug for Huntington's disease, and deutetrabenazine was recently tested against placebo. A switching-trial from tetrabenazine to deutetrabenazine is underway, but no head-to-head, blinded, randomized controlled trial is planned. Using meta-analytical methodology, the authors compared these molecules.


RCTs comparing tetrabenazine or deutetrabenazine with placebo in Huntington's disease were searched. The authors assessed the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool, calculated indirect treatment comparisons, and applied the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) framework.


The evidence network for this report comprised 1 tetrabenazine trial and 1 deutetrabenazine trial, both against placebo. Risk of bias was moderate in both. Participants in the tetrabenazine and deutetrabenazine trials did not differ significantly on motor scores or adverse events. Depression and somnolence scales significantly favored deutetrabenazine.


There is low-quality evidence that tetrabenazine and deutetrabenazine do not differ in efficacy or safety. It is important to note that these results are likely to remain the only head-to-head comparison between these 2 compounds in Huntington's disease.


Huntington's disease; deutetrabenazine; indirect comparison; meta‐analysis; tetrabenazine

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