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Branded Versus Generic Clozapine: Bioavailability Comparison and Interchangeability Issues

Y. W. Francis Lam,PharmD; Larry Ereshefsky, PharmD; Gregory B. Toney,PharmD; and Cheryl Gonzales, MD

Published: April 1, 2001

Article Abstract

Clozapine has been the treatment of choice for patients with refractory schizophrenia. Generic clozapine has recently become available, because of a waiver of the usual criteria for establishing bioequivalence. However, there are biopharmaceutical, bioavailability, and clinical concerns related to the generic formulation raised by both clinicians and academic researchers. We conducted a prospective, randomized, crossover study to evaluate steady-state pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and tolerability of generic clozapine (Zenith Goldline Pharmaceuticals) versus Clozaril (Novartis Pharmaceuticals) in schizophrenic patients. A preliminary report of the pertinent bioavailability results is presented here. Despite comparable mean plasma concentration-time curves, significant differences were found in the primary pharmacokinetic parameters of the 2 formulations in almost 40% of patients. Such intraindividual differences raise the issue of average bioequivalence versus individual bioequivalence and the implication for interchangeability of different clozapine formulations. The decision to switch a patient from branded to generic clozapine should be made on an individual basis with special emphasis on clinical outcome, and patients should be monitored closely during the transition.

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