Pathway to clozapine use: a comparison between a patient cohort from New Zealand and a cohort from the United Kingdom

Amanda J. Wheeler*, Celia L. Feetam, Jeff Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and Objective: Clozapine has been available since the early 1990s. Studies continue to demonstrate its superior efficacy in treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Despite this, numerous studies show under-utilisation, delayed access and reluctance by psychiatrists to prescribe clozapine. This retrospective cross-sectional study compared the prescribing of clozapine in two adult cohorts under the care of large public mental health services in Auckland (New Zealand) and Birmingham (United Kingdom) on 31 March 2007. Method: Time from first presentation to clozapine initiation, prior antipsychotics trialled and antipsychotic co-prescribing were compared. Data included demographics, psychiatric diagnosis, co-morbid conditions, year of first presentation, admissions and pharmacological treatment (clozapine dose, start date, prior antipsychotics, co-prescribed antipsychotic). Results: Overall, 664 people were prescribed clozapine (402 Auckland; 262 Birmingham); mean daily dose of 384 mg (Auckland) and 429 mg (Birmingham). 53 % presented after 1990 and the average duration of time before starting clozapine was significantly longer in the Birmingham cohort (6.5 vs. 5.3 years) but this reduced in both cohorts to a 1-year mean in those presenting within the last 3 years. The average number of antipsychotics trialled pre-clozapine for those presenting since 1990 was significantly higher in the Birmingham cohort (4.3 vs. 3.1) but in both cohorts this similarly reduced in those presenting within the last 3 years. Antipsychotic co-prescribing was significantly higher in the Birmingham cohort (22.9 vs. 10.7 %). Conclusions: There is evidence that access to clozapine has improved over time in both cohorts, with a reduction in the duration between presentation and initiation of clozapine and number of different antipsychotics trialled pre-clozapine. These are very positive findings in terms of optimising outcomes with clozapine and are possibly due to the impact of guideline recommendations, increasing clinician, consumer and carer knowledge, and experience with clozapine and funding changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Drug Investigation
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2014


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