Optimizing Outcomes in Clozapine Rechallenge Following Neutropenia: A Cohort Analysis

Objective: Certain patients with treatment-refractory schizophrenia may be rechallenged with clozapine following previous neutropenia. Evidence guiding patient selection and the effectiveness of lithium and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) in rechallenge is limited, and factors associated with successful outcomes are unclear.

Method: Outcomes were studied in patients rechallenged with clozapine at a tertiary referral center between January 2007 and December 2013, following 1 or more previous trials terminated due to neutropenia, defined as an absolute neutrophil count (ANC) < 1.5 × 109/L. Demographic characteristics, details of each clozapine trial including ANC, and coprescribed medication were extracted, and factors associated with rechallenge outcomes were examined.

Results: Nineteen patients underwent clozapine rechallenge following previous neutropenia; 4 (21%) experienced further neutropenia, 2 of which developed agranulocytosis. Compared to successfully rechallenged patients, unsuccessfully rechallenged patients were significantly older (t = 2.10, P = .05), experienced onset of neutropenia sooner (W = 10.0, P = .03), and were more commonly coprescribed valproate. In addition to 5 patients with benign ethnic neutropenia (BEN), 8 patients not of an ethnicity associated with BEN also had idiopathic low neutrophil counts at baseline; lithium and G-CSF coprescription facilitated successful rechallenge in these patients.

Conclusions: In this selected population, the initial neutropenia was unlikely to be related to clozapine in a substantial proportion of cases. This group was successfully rechallenged following careful consideration of the risks and benefits, and lithium and G-CSF contributed to allowing continued clozapine therapy. In addition to black patients, other ethnic groups can have persistently low ANC unrelated to clozapine.

J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(11):e1410–e1416

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.14m09326