Efficacy and safety of clozapine in psychotic disorders—a systematic quantitative meta-review

Elias Wagner, Spyridon Siafis, Piyumi Fernando, Peter Falkai, William G. Honer, Astrid Röh, Dan Siskind, Stefan Leucht, Alkomiet Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


A recent increase in the literature regarding the evidence base for clozapine has made it increasingly difficult for clinicians to judge “best evidence” for clozapine use. As such, we aimed at elucidating the state-of-the-art for clozapine with regard to efficacy, effectiveness, tolerability, and management of clozapine and clozapine-related adverse events in neuropsychiatric disorders. We conducted a systematic PRISMA-conforming quantitative meta-review of available meta-analytic evidence regarding clozapine use. Primary outcome effect sizes were extracted and transformed into relative risk ratios (RR) and standardized mean differences (SMD). The methodological quality of meta-analyses was assessed using the AMSTAR-2 checklist. Of the 112 meta-analyses included in our review, 61 (54.5%) had an overall high methodological quality according to AMSTAR-2. Clozapine appears to have superior effects on positive, negative, and overall symptoms and relapse rates in schizophrenia (treatment-resistant and non-treatment-resistant subpopulations) compared to first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs) and to pooled FGAs/second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) in treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS). Despite an unfavorable metabolic and hematological adverse-event profile compared to other antipsychotics, hospitalization, mortality and all-cause discontinuation (ACD) rates of clozapine surprisingly show a pattern of superiority. Our meta-review outlines the superior overall efficacy of clozapine compared to FGAs and most other SGAs in schizophrenia and suggests beneficial efficacy outcomes in bipolar disorder and Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP). More clinical studies and subsequent meta-analyses are needed beyond the application of clozapine in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and future studies should be directed into multidimensional clozapine side-effect management to foster evidence and to inform future guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number487
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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