Clozaril® (Clozapine) is an antipsychotic drug used mostly in patients with
schizophrenia but is also used in patients with bipolar disorder and
schizoaffective disorder. This drug is an antipsychotic medication known
to be in the dibenzodiazepine family and is different than other antipsychotic
medications. This drug has to be monitored very closely. For example, you
must have your blood drawn once a week for several weeks to monitor closely the
amount of medication that is in your blood so that the dosage can be adjusted as
Clozapine is one of the few medications known to help patients with
schizophrenia and mood disorders that are treatment-resistant.
Treatment-resistant means that they have tried two or more other antipsychotics
without relief from their symptoms. It is however, not the first drug of
choice for these patients. It is more known as a last resort due to the
adverse side effects. Clozapine has been known to
cause fatal agranulocytosis in about 1% of exposed patients per year.
This is a condiiton where there are an insufficient amount of white blood cells that are called neutrophils (ganulocytes). The cause of the insufficient amount of white blood cells can be from a failure
of the bone marrow to make sufficient neutrophils. The cause can also be when white blood cells are
destroyed faster than they can be produced. Affected people are susceptible to
infections. It was approved by the FDA in 1989 for the treatment of mood
disorders and schizophrenia. It is highly affective in patients with
suicidal ideations. The FDA approved it for the treatment of such patients
in later years.
- fainting spells, loss of balance
- fast heartbeat
- changes in vision, inability to control eye movements
- chest pain or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- difficulty in speaking or swallowing
- difficulty sleeping, nightmares
- difficulty passing urine
- fever, chills, sore throat, or mouth sores
- inability to control muscle movements in the face, hands, arms or legs
- muscle and joint aches and pains
- restlessness or need to keep moving
- seizures (convulsions)
- stiffness, spasms, trembling
- uncontrollable tongue or chewing movements, smacking lips or puffing
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- changes in sexual desire or performance
- dry mouth
- increased sweating
- dizziness, especially on standing from a sitting or lying position
- increased watering of the mouth, drooling
- weight gain
I have battled bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder all my 36 years
of life. Clozaril® made my life a living hell at one point for about 4
years. I was a walking zombie, drooling all over myself and gained over
150 pounds. I had to have my blood drawn once a week which was difficult
because my veins are difficult to find. My overall quality of life was
ruined. I was an adult who was being taken care of by my mother (which was
a nurse) and she actually had to wash my pillow daily due to the fact that it
was soaking wet when I would awaken from the drooling.. The nightmares
were terrible. However, this medication did keep me from committing
suicide on several occasions and made the hallucinations and psychosis go away.
But, if you don't have any quality to your life, one would think the doctors
should have attempted to find another alternative to the Clozaril®.
Eventually, my mother insisted on a change and today I have found the right mix
of mood stabilizers and antipsychotics and am leading a semi-normal life with a
wonderful husband and partial custody of my 13 year old son.
If you have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder, I
would not recommend this medication to anyone due to the extensive side effects.
Please consult with your physician and possibly show them this material to
indicate that you are aware of the adverse affects of this medication.
Good luck in your endeavors.
Source: 31 Jul 2004
2004. Clinical Pharmacology. 31 Jul 2004 <http://tinyurl.com/6gthc >.
"Medline Plus." 02 Aug 2004 http://medlineplus.gov.