Despite the demonstrated efficacy of clozapine in severely refractory schizophrenia, questions remain regarding its efficacy for primary negative symptoms, comparison with a moderate dose of a first-generation antipsychotic, and adverse effects during a longer-term trial. This study examined its efficacy in partially responsive, community-based patients, compared clozapine with moderate-dose haloperidol, and extended treatment to 6 months.
Randomized, double-blind, 29-week trial comparing clozapine (n = 37) with haloperidol (n = 34). Subjects with schizophrenia who were being treated in community settings at 3 collaborating clinical facilities were enrolled.
Subjects treated with haloperidol were significantly more likely to discontinue treatment for lack of efficacy (51%) than were those treated with clozapine (12%). A higher proportion of clozapine-treated subjects met an a priori criterion of improvement (57%) compared with haloperidol-treated subjects (25%). Significantly greater improvement was seen in symptoms of psychosis, hostile-suspiciousness, anxiety-depression, thought disturbance, and total score measured on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. No differences were detected in negative symptoms using the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale or the Schedule for Assessment of Negative Symptoms. Subjects treated with clozapine experienced more excess salivation, dizziness, and sweating and less dry mouth and decreased appetite than those treated with haloperidol.
Compared with a first-generation antipsychotic given in a moderate dose, clozapine offers substantial clinical benefits to treatment-refractory subjects who can be treated in the community. Advantages are seen in a broad range of symptoms but do not extend to negative symptoms.