Objective: Clozapine, an atypical antipsychotic, has been estimated to be effective in 30% of treatment-refractory schizophrenic patients. The authors hypothesized that if a dose-response relationship was obvious for this drug, the response rate could be significantly amplified.
Method: Following an 8-24-day dose titration phase, 29 inpatients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia diagnosed according to DSM-III-R were given a clozapine dose of approximately 400 mg/day for 4 weeks; blood samples were obtained weekly during this period.
Results: A receiver operator curve demonstrated that the threshold clozapine plasma concentration for therapeutic response was 350 ng/ml. Sixty-four percent of the patients with clozapine plasma concentrations greater than 350 ng/ml responded, whereas only 22% of the patients with concentrations less than 350 ng/ml responded.
Conclusions: Use of clozapine blood levels as a predictor for treatment response in treatment-refractory schizophrenic patients appears worthwhile, since the measurement's sensitivity for response was 64% and the specificity for nonresponse was 78%.