An epidemic of agranulocytosis and granulocytopenia occurred in 1975 in conjunction with clozapine treatment of mental patients in Finland. An attempt was made to assess the epidemiologic and genetic factors contributing to the adverse drug effect. The estimated incidence rate in Finland was 2.1/1000 patient-months. This figure could not be compared with rates from other countries because of the inexact nature of the figures reported so far. All 16 cases occurred in seven hospitals in southwestern Finland, whereas the overall hospital net use of the drug was geographically evenly distributed. The difference between the observed and the proportionally expected incidence of cases amongst the hospitals where clozapine was used was statistically significant. The average consumption of the drug did not differ between the hospitals where cases occurred and those where no definite cases could be diagnosed. Six-generation pedigree analyses failed to reveal significant parental consanguinity or genetic kinship between probands. Neither did the birth places of the ancestors of the probands disclose a typical isolate pattern. In conclusion, the cases appeared to be confined to a few hospitals in southwestern Finland. Although a genetic factor is not excluded, we found no evidence in support of a genetic mechanism.
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