Clozapine is the general form of the branded drug Klozaril.
Clozapine reduces the risk of suicidal behavior in people with schizophrenia or other mental disorders.
Clozapine, manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals, was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989.
Clozapine can reduce the number of blood cells that will help fight infections.
Your doctor will perform laboratory tests before, during and after treatment with this medication. You should call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms when taking clozapine:
- A sore throat
- Ulcers in the mouth or throat
- Any other infection
You can get clozapine only in a certified pharmacy under a special program. You must be registered in the program and agree to the start of the blood tests.
This medicine can cause seizures. You should tell your doctor if you have ever had seizures, head trauma or a brain tumor before taking clozapine.
Clozapine can cause a dangerous heart disease. You should call your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe, irregular heartbeat
- Thoracic pain
- Extreme fatigue
This drug also has a warning of the potential risk of other cardiac or respiratory effects.
Studies have shown that elderly people with dementia who take antipsychotic drugs, such as clozapine, are at increased risk of death.
Because of this risk, this medication is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of elderly people with dementia.
The drug may also cause dizziness or fainting when you stand.
Your doctor is likely to start with a low dose of clozapine and gradually increase it to reduce the likelihood of this side effect.
You should tell your doctor if you are taking any sleeping pills or any other medicines.
You can experience an increase in blood sugar when taking clozapine. The drug may also increase the risk of developing diabetes. Tell your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
- Strong thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
Before taking clozapine, you should tell your doctor if you have or have ever had:
- Problems with urination
- High or low blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart, kidney, liver or lung disease
- Paralytic ileus (a condition in which food can not move through the intestines)
- Low levels of potassium or magnesium
You must tell your doctor that you are taking clozapine before any surgery, including dental procedures.
In addition, tell your doctor if you have ever had to stop taking medication for mental illness because of serious side effects.
If you have a condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU), you should be aware that tablets taken internally contain aspartame.
Clozapine controls the symptoms of schizophrenia, but it does not heal the disorder itself. You must continue to accept the medication, even if you feel good.
Discontinuation of llozapine
You may experience rejection if you stop taking clozapine suddenly. Symptoms of withdrawal may include hallucinations or illusions.
Your doctor will probably gradually reduce your dose if you decide to stop taking clozapine.
Do not stop taking the drug before talking to your doctor.
Pregnancy and clozapine
Clozapine is unlikely to harm the fetus.
You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking clozapine.
Admission of antipsychotics during the last three months of pregnancy can cause withdrawal symptoms in newborns.
Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking clozapine during pregnancy.
The medicine can enter the breast milk and can harm the infant. You should not breast-feed while taking clozapine.
Clozapine: side effects
You should tell your doctor if any of the following side effects become serious or do not go away:
- Increased saliva secretion
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
Serious side effects
You should call your doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms listed in the “Warnings” section, or any of the following serious side effects:
- Changes in vision
- Difficulty urinating or losing control of the bladder
- Changes in behavior
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Stomach upset
- Loss of appetite
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
- Lack of energy
- Symptoms of influenza
You must tell your doctor about all the drugs that you are taking, especially those listed in the “Warnings” section and about any of the following:
- EES, E-Mycin, others
- Medications from high blood pressure, mental illness or nausea
- Medications from irregular heart rhythms, such as an ankanide, Tambocor, Rythmol and Quinidex
- Medications for seizures, such as carbamazepine or phenytoin
- Rifampin (Rifadine, Rimatan)
- SSRI, such as Celexa, fluoxetine (Sarafem), fluvoxamine, Paxil and sertraline
- Sleeping Pills
- Trihexyphenidyl (Artane)
Clozapine and other interactions
Smoking cigarettes can reduce the effectiveness of clozapine. You should tell your doctor if you use tobacco before taking this medicine.
This drug can also make you drowsy. You must be careful when driving a car and doing any other actions that require vigilance.
Clozapine and alcohol
Alcohol consumption can cause you to tremble when taking clozapine. You should talk with your doctor about this possible interaction.
The dose of clozapine
Clozapine is released as a tablet and dissolving tablets, which need to be taken through the mouth.
Usually it is done one to three times a day.
You should try to take this medication at about the same time every day.
Follow the instructions on the label carefully. Do not take more or less medicine than prescribed.
You should not push dissolving tablets through foil packaging. Try to peel the foil using dry hands. Then take out the pill and put it on your tongue.
If you suspect an overdose, you should immediately contact a toxicology center or an emergency room.
If you miss a dose of clozapine, take it as soon as you remember.
However, if it’s time for the next dose, skip it and continue with your usual schedule.
Do not take additional medication to compensate for the missed dose.
If you miss a drug over two days, call your doctor before taking it again. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose.