Prescription and Underprescription of Clozapine in Dutch Ambulatory Care

Yvonne C. van der Zalm*, Fabian Termorshuizen, Peter F. Schulte, Jan P. Bogers, Machteld Marcelis, Ins E. Sommer, Jean Paul Selten

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: To our knowledge, no study has examined in a structured way the extent of underprescription of clozapine in ambulatory patients with Non-Affective Psychotic Disorder (NAPD). In the Netherlands, psychiatric care for such patients is provided by Flexible Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) teams and by early intervention teams. In 20 FACT teams and 3 early intervention teams we assessed the proportion of patients who: use clozapine (type 1 patients), previously used this drug (type 2), have an unfulfilled indication for this drug, by type of indication (type 3), or were at least markedly psychotic, but had not yet received two adequate treatments with other antipsychotic drugs (type 4). We expected to find major differences between teams. To rule out that these differences are caused by differences in severity of psychopathology, we also calculated the proportions of patients who use clozapine given an indication at any time (number of type 1 patients divided by the sum of type 1, 2, and 3 patients). Materials and methods: The nurse practitioner of each team identified the patients already on clozapine. Next, using a highly-structured decision tree, the nurse practitioner and psychiatrist assessed whether the remaining patients had an indication for this drug. Indications were treatment-resistant positive symptoms, tardive dyskinesia, aggression and suicidality. The severity of positive symptoms was determined using the Clinical Global Impression-Schizophrenia Scale (CGI-SCH). Results: In the participating FACT-teams 2,286 NAPD patients were assessed. The range among teams in proportions was: type 1: 8.8-34.7% (mean: 23.0%), type 2: 0-8.2% (mean: 3.5%), type 3: 1.7-15.6% (mean: 6.9%), type 4: 1.8-16.3% (mean: 8.6%). The range in proportions of patients using this drug given an indication was 49.0-90.9% (mean: 68.8%). These figures were lower in early intervention teams. Conclusions: The proportion of patients in FACT-teams who have an unfulfilled indication for clozapine is 6.9%. There were considerable differences between teams with respect to this proportion. Almost a third of the outpatients had at any time an indication for clozapine. If one takes type 4 patients into account, this proportion may be higher.
Original languageEnglish
Article number231
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2018


  • clozapine
  • psychotic disorders
  • outpatient care
  • prescription rates
  • treatment resistance

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