For those patients who have treatment-resistant schizophrenia, switching from standard antipsychotics to clozapine has been shown to be a better treatment method. Patients on clozapine have fewer hospital visits, stay on the medication longer and require minimal need for additional antipsychotics.
One percent of the adult population is affected by schizophrenia. Antipsychotics are useful tools in the treatment of schizophrenia, but nearly 30 percent of patients do not respond to them – this is known as treatment-resistant schizophrenia.
Clozapine is the only FDA approved drug to manage treatment-resistant schizophrenia.
The new study used data from 6,246 patients whose treatment patterns were consistent with treatment-resistance. The study compared the effects of clozapine and standard antipsychotics.
Access to clozapine was previously limited, but the FDA recently widened access to it. Limitations were put on clozapine due to its ability to increase the risk of blood infections, but constant blood monitoring can prevent serious infection.
Lead author T. Scott Stroup, M.D., said, “These results give clinicians important guidance for how to help an extremely vulnerable group of people. By helping individuals with treatment-resistant schizophrenia get effective treatment sooner we can expect better outcomes.”