Less Hospital Time For Bipolar Disorder

Clozaril taken for bipolar disorder led to less time in the hospital

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Clozaril (clozapine) is sometimes used to treat people with bipolar disorder. But is it effective? A recent study found that people with bipolar disorder who took Clozaril were helped in some ways.

These people spent less time in the hospital and used fewer hospital services while they were taking the drug. It is not clear if Clozaril helped with bipolar symptoms, but it helped people to stay out of the hospital.

The study's authors concluded that, “Clozapine seems to be an appropriate choice for treatment-resistant BD and should be investigated in randomized controlled trials.”

"Talk to your psychiatrist about treatment options."

Clozaril is an atypical antipsychotic that is good for treatment of schizophrenia. Like some other antipsychotics, it is also used off-label to treat bipolar disorder.

Researchers, led by Jimmi Nielson, MD, of the Unit for Psychiatric Research at the Aalborg Psychiatric Hospital in Denmark, wanted to see if Clozaril was effective for bipolar disorder in the hospital setting.

They looked at the records of 326 people with bipolar disorder who were treated with Clozaril. They looked at their hospital visits and stays before and during their treatment with Clozaril.

They found that, while taking Clozaril, people spent less time in the hospital and were admitted on less often.

Before taking Clozaril, the people in this study spent an average of 177 days in the hospital. While taking Clozaril, the average number of days in the hospital was reduced to about 35.

About 73 percent of the patients in the study spent less time in the hospital when they were taking Clozaril. 

Patients with bipolar disorder taking Clozaril were also admitted to the hospital less often for self-harm or overdose, and used fewer medications overall.

Before taking Clozaril, 8.3 percent of patients visited the hospital for overdose or self-harm. While taking Clozaril, the number of patient visits for these reasons was reduced to 3.1 percent.

This did not look at how Clozaril worked on bipolar symptoms. Instead, they only found a difference in the use of hospital facilities.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for Clozaril state that it can lead to a serious condition that weakens the immune system. It can lower the number of white blood cells, which leaves people at risk for infection.

Because of this warning, only people with healthy immune systems should take the drug. The FDA also warns that this drug should be used only for people with severe illness who have not responded to other forms of treatment.

This study was published October 26 in Bipolar Disorder. Funding information and conflicts of interest were not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 4, 2012
Last Updated:
November 8, 2012