, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 51-70

Clinical profile of clozapine: Adverse reactions and agranulocytosis

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The arrival of clozapine has been one of the most significant developments in antipsychotic drug treatment since the advent of chlorpromazine ushered in the psychopharmacologic era. However, its utilization has been significantly limited and complicated by its potential to cause adverse effects and agranulocytosis in particular. It must be emphasized that clozapine has a side effect profile that is in many ways distinct from standard typical antipsychotic drugs. Side effects with clozapine are common and range from the benign to the potentially lethal. The most common side effects include sedation, dizziness, and sialorrhea during sleep; the most serious are agranulocytosis, seizures and respiratory depression. Although side effects from clozapine are not necessarily preventable, they are for the most part manageable. Even with the most serious adverse effects, proper knowledge of the medication's actions, clinical vigilance, and prompt intervention can prevent the occurrence of significant morbidity and mortality as a consequence of clozapine treatment.