A new study found that patients with bipolar disorder spent less time in the hospital and used fewer hospital services while they were taking the atypical antipsychotic drug Clozaril (clozapine).

It is not clear, however, if Clozaril reduced bipolar symptoms, only that it helped them to stay out of the hospital.

Clozaril is effective in the treatment of schizophrenia, but like some other antipsychotics, it is also used off-label to treat bipolar disorder.

“Clozapine seems to be an appropriate choice for treatment-resistant BD and should be investigated in randomized controlled trials,” said the study authors.

For the study, researchers led by Jimmi Nielson, M.D., of the Unit for Psychiatric Research at the Aalborg Psychiatric Hospital in Denmark, set out 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 and also looked at their hospital visits and stays before and during their treatment with the drug.

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

Approximately 73 percent of the patients in the study spent less time in the hospital while taking Clozaril.

Patients taking Clozaril were also admitted to the hospital less often for self-harm or overdose, and used fewer medications overall.  Before taking the drug, 8.3 percent of patients came into the hospital for overdose or self-harm.

While taking Clozaril, the number of patient visits for these reasons was only 3.1 percent.

The study did not look into how Clozaril worked on bipolar symptoms, but only the difference in the use of hospital facilities.

This study is published in Bipolar Disorder.

Source:  Bipolar Disorder