New Medicine Promises Better Relief For People With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There could be new hope for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

An estimated 2% of the population, or 1 in 50, has OCD. Treatments currently available don’t work well for many and often have side effects.

As Stephanie Stahl reports a new experimental drug could change that.

Every time he passes a door Ted Nicholas has to check that it’s locked.

“It’s an irrational thought, I know that I’ve locked the door but I just continue to check it anyway,” he said.

Same thing with washing his hands.

“For no reason, I feel dirty,” said Nicholas. “I have to wash really thoroughly, not just like a one and done wash your hands. I have to do it three times… it seems ridiculous but I can’t stop.”

Nicholas has obsessive-compulsive disorder and gets fixated on things like locking the door, then compulsively checking it.

“My wife says, ‘You know what you’re doing, just stop,’” he said. “I would if I could, I really would but I can’t.”

Traditional medications for OCD target brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, but they’ve only been marginally helpful.

“So a good percent of the patients do not get relief with the current medication,” said psychiatrist Dr. Shivkumar Hatti, a principal investigator for an experimental OCD medication made by Biohaven Pharmaceuticals.

The medicine targets a different brain chemical called glutamate.

“The drug works on the symptoms of anxiety,” said Shivkumar. “If the anxiety comes down, compulsion to perform an activity will also come down.”

Limited early results have been positive.

“It would dramatically change my life,” said Nicholas, who is thinking about enrolling in the trial to test the drug and hoping for a more effective treatment for the disorder that interferes with his life every day.

The pharmaceutical company is looking to enroll 226 people at 59 test centers around the country. To find out more information and sign up, visit the website at