Clozapine (clozaril) is an anti-psychotic medication that has repeatedly been demonstrated to be beneficial for patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder who have not responded adequately to other anti-psychotic medications. Clozapine is not effective for all patients but the evidence suggests up to 60 percent of treatment resistant patients may benefit from its use. Clozapine could prevent years of needless suffering due to ongoing psychosis.
Clozapine at the Center
At our Center there are now over 100 patients who receive this medication More patients receive clozapine here than at any other program in the state. However, only two percent of patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia in the state of North Carolina receive clozapine according to the Medicaid data base. We estimate that 4-5 times that number could benefit from a clozapine trial.
Clozapine was first introduced in the U.S. over 20 + years ago but is not used as widely as would be expected given its potential benefits. One likely explanation for this is that it requires ongoing hematological monitoring (regular blood tests) since one percent of individuals who take it could develop a serious side effect called agranulocytosis whereby the body may stop making white blood cells which fight off infections. With ongoing monitoring clozapine is safe, and if the results of the blood tests suggest that agranulocytosis is developing clozapine is stopped and the side effect is reversible.
One of our objectives is to continue to do whatever we can to provide education or assistance to providers throughout the state who may want to increase their use of clozapine.