Management of the adverse effects of clozapine

Schizophr Bull. 1998;24(3):381-90. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a033333.


Clozapine has been found to be superior to traditional neuroleptics in the treatment of refractory schizophrenia and is increasingly being used to treat schizophrenia, affective disorders, some neurological disorders, and aggression. For many patients, clozapine offers new hope for the successful pharmacological management of a disabling mental disorder. However, up to 17 percent of patients must discontinue treatment with clozapine because of adverse effects, which also limit the rate at which the dose can be increased and the maximum dose that can be tolerated. This article reviews strategies for minimizing and managing the adverse effects of clozapine, including agranulocytosis, seizures, sedation, delirium, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, hypotension, tachycardia, weight gain, sialorrhea, elevated liver enzymes, constipation, nausea, enuresis, fever, and neuromuscular effects. Incidence and morbidity are presented first. Then, the known or hypothesized pathophysiology of the adverse effects are described. Finally, nonpharmacological and pharmacological interventions are reviewed. Under-standing the incidence, pathophysiology, and treatments of adverse effects is essential for a positive therapeutic outcome when prescribing clozapine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agranulocytosis / chemically induced
  • Agranulocytosis / prevention & control
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control
  • Clozapine / administration & dosage
  • Clozapine / adverse effects*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Dyskinesia, Drug-Induced / prevention & control
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Clozapine