Clozapine

Clozapine
(KLOE-za-peen)

Clozaril, Fazaclo, Versacloz, Clopine, Clozapine Synthon, Denzapine, Zaponex

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This medication is used to treat certain mental/mood disorders (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders). Clozapine is a psychiatric medication (anti-psychotic type) that works by helping to restore the balance of certain natural substances (neurotransmitters) in the brain.

Clozapine decreases hallucinations and helps prevent suicide in people who are likely to try to harm themselves. It helps you to think more clearly and positively about yourself, feel less nervous, and take part in everyday life.

If you miss your doses for longer than a day or two, consult your doctor for a new schedule to get back to the dose you were on (see Missed Dose section). Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time(s) each day.

Do not stop taking clozapine without consulting your doctor. Some conditions may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Also, you may experience symptoms such as severe sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. To prevent these symptoms while you are stopping treatment with this drug, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Report any new or worsening symptoms immediately.

It may take several weeks before the full benefit of this drug takes effect. Inform your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.

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A product that may interact with this drug is: metoclopramide.

Other medications can affect the removal of clozapine from your body, which may affect how clozapine works. Examples include fluoxamine, rifamycins (such as rifabutin, rifampin), St. John's wort, drugs used to treat seizures (such as carbamazepine, phenytoin), among others.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products that cause drowsiness including alcohol, antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine), drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, and narcotic pain relievers (such as codeine).

Common side effects of Clozapine include:

  • Drooling
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Shaking (tremor)
  • Vision problems(e.g., blurred vision)
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation may occur

Many of these effects (especially drowsiness) lessen as your body gets used to the medication. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

To prevent constipation, maintain a diet adequate in fiber, drink plenty of water, and exercise. If you become constipated while using this drug, consult your pharmacist for help in selecting a laxative (e.g., stimulant-type with stool softener).

This drug may also cause significant weight gain and a rise in your cholesterol (or triglyceride) levels.

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: facial/muscle twitching, signs of infection (e.g., severe tiredness, fever, persistent sore throat), seizures, uncontrollable movements.

Seek immediate medical attention if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: severe dizziness, fainting, mental/mood changes, difficulty breathing with exercise, swollen legs/feet, sudden weakness, pain/redness/swelling of the arms/legs, chest pain, persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing of eyes/skin.

This medication may rarely cause a very serious condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Get medical help right away if you have any of the following symptoms: fever, muscle stiffness/pain/tenderness/weakness, severe tiredness, severe confusion, sweating, fast/irregular heartbeat, dark urine, change in the amount of urine.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.