Delay in Starting Clozapine in Treatment Resistant Schizophrenia – Why it Matters

Posted on:April 13, 2017
Last Updated: January 8, 2024
Time to read: 9 minutes

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that is characterised by psychotic symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, social withdrawal and cognitive impairment. Schizophrenia has a high morbidity and mortality rate. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis showed that Schizophrenia was associated with a weighted average of 14·5 years of potential life lost and was higher for men than women. The overall weighted average life expectancy was 64·7 years and was lower for men than women. [1]

Treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) describes patients who fail to respond to pharmacotherapy, and the widely accepted definition is a non or inadequate response to at least two antipsychotics of adequate dose for an adequate duration.

It is estimated that anywhere between 20 – 45 % of patients are partial responders to treatment with 5 – 10 % of patients receiving no apparent benefit [2]. Clozapine is an atypical antipsychotic that is considered first-line in TRS [3].

A recently published paper at the Okayama Psychiatric Medical Center in Japan attempted to understand the critical nature of the clozapine treatment window in TRS. They aimed to determine the symptomatic outcomes of TRS and the delay in initiating clozapine treatment.