Optimizing Clozapine Treatment

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Compliance with conventional antipsychotic medication is often poor, with many patients discontinuing treatment only a few months after commencing therapy. The side effects of treatment, which are not necessarily restricted solely to motor symptoms, are often considered to be responsible for this noncompliance. In contrast to conventional antipsychotics, clozapine is associated with only minimal extrapyramidal symptoms, and in most patients, its use results in significant improvements in compliance. However, clozapine does induce a variety of adverse effects, most of which are of limited duration and either preventable or manageable if a number of simple clinical procedures are followed. Clozapine therapy is associated with a beneficial risk/benefit ratio in the majority of treatment-resistant schizophrenic patients. With careful hematologic control, the risk of agranulocytosis can be minimized. The marked increase in the well-being of patients receiving clozapine should stimulate psychiatrists to broaden its use and not limit it to severely treatment-resistant individuals.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(suppl 12):35-38