Clozapine can cause a serious blood condition. Your doctor will order certain lab tests before you start your treatment, during your treatment, and for at least 4 weeks after your treatment. Your doctor will order the lab tests once a week at first and may order the tests less often as your treatment continues. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: extreme tiredness; weakness; fever, sore throat, chills, or other signs of flu or infection; unusual vaginal discharge or itching; sores in your mouth or throat; wounds that take a long time to heal; pain or burning while urinating; sores or pain in or around your rectal area; or abdominal pain.
Because of the risks with this medication, clozapine is available only through a special restricted distribution program. A program has been set up by the manufacturers of clozapine to be sure that people do not take clozapine without the necessary monitoring called the Clozapine Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) Program. Your doctor and your pharmacist must be registered with the Clozapine REMS program, and your pharmacist will not dispense your medication unless he or she has received the results of your blood tests. Ask your doctor for more information about this program and how you will receive your medication.
Clozapine may cause seizures. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had seizures. Do not drive a car, operate machinery, swim, or climb while taking clozapine, because if you suddenly lose consciousness, you could harm yourself or others.
Clozapine may cause myocarditis (swelling of the heart muscle that may be dangerous) or cardiomyopathy (enlarged or thickened heart muscle that stops the heart from pumping blood normally). If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: extreme tiredness; flu like symptoms; difficulty breathing or fast breathing; fever; chest pain; or fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat.
Clozapine may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting when you stand up, especially when you first start taking it or when your dose is increased. Tell your doctor if you have or have had a heart attack, heart failure, or a slow, irregular heartbeat or are taking medications for high blood pressure. Also tell your doctor if you have severe vomiting or diarrhea or signs of dehydration now, or if you develop these symptoms at any time during your treatment. Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of clozapine and gradually increase your dose to give your body time to adjust to the medication and decrease the chance that you will experience this side effect. Talk to your doctor if you do not take clozapine for 2 days or longer. Your doctor will probably tell you to restart your treatment with a low dose of clozapine.
Use in Older Adults:
Studies have shown that older adults with dementia (a brain disorder that affects the ability to remember, think clearly, communicate, and perform daily activities and that may cause changes in mood and personality) who take antipsychotics (medications for mental illness) such as clozapine have an increased chance of death during treatment.
Clozapine is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of behavior problems in older adults with dementia. Talk to the doctor who prescribed clozapine if you, a family member, or someone you care for has dementia and is taking this medication. For more information visit the FDA website: Web Site
Clozapine is used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia (a mental illness that causes disturbed or unusual thinking, loss of interest in life, and strong or inappropriate emotions) in patients who have not been helped by other medications or who have tried to kill themselves and are likely to try to kill or harm themselves again. Clozapine is in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics. It works by changing the activity of certain natural substances in the brain.
Clozapine comes as a tablet, an orally disintegrating tablet (tablet that dissolves quickly in the mouth), and an oral suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken once or twice daily. Take clozapine at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take clozapine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Do not try to push the orally disintegrating tablet through the foil packaging. Instead, use dry hands to peel back the foil. Immediately take out the tablet and place it on your tongue. The tablet will quickly dissolve and can be swallowed with saliva. No water is needed to swallow disintegrating tablets.
To measure clozapine oral suspension, follow these steps:
Clozapine controls schizophrenia but does not cure it. It may take several weeks or longer before you feel the full benefit of clozapine. Continue to take clozapine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking clozapine without talking to your doctor. Your doctor will probably want to decrease your dose gradually.
This medication should not be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before taking clozapine,
Talk to your doctor about drinking caffeinated beverages while taking this medicine.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
If you miss taking clozapine for more than 2 days, you should call your doctor before taking any more medication. Your doctor may want to restart your medication at a lower dose.
Clozapine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNINGS or SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS sections, call your doctor immediately:
Clozapine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( Web Site) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from light and excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not refrigerate or freeze the oral suspension.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( Web Site) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. Web Site
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at Web Site. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your body's response to clozapine.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.