Adults who have tried other treatments for schizophrenia without success may receive Versacloz. This prescription drug is also approved for people who have a history of suicidal behavior and are at risk for attempting suicide. Off-label (unapproved) uses for Versacloz include treating hallucinations in people with Parkinson's disease.
Versacloz™ (clozapine oral suspension) is a prescription medication that belongs to a group of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics. It is approved to treat:
- People with schizophrenia that did not adequately respond to other antipsychotic medications
- People with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who had suicidal behavior in the past and are at risk for suicidal behavior again.
Schizophrenia is a complex, serious, lifelong brain disorder. People with this condition have a difficult time organizing their thoughts, interpreting reality, and thinking logically. Schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person has schizophrenia in combination with mood symptoms, such as depression or mania.
There are different types of schizophrenia, and the actual symptoms a person experiences can vary by type (see Types of Schizophrenia). Some of the possible symptoms may include:
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real)
- Delusions (believing things that are not true)
- Problems organizing thoughts
- Difficulty expressing emotions
- Loss of pleasure in everyday life
- Memory problems
- Difficulty interpreting information
- An inability to organize and plan.
(Click Symptoms of Schizophrenia to learn more.)
Because the symptoms of this disease are so disabling, people with the condition are usually unable to care for themselves or function normally without treatment. There is no cure, so treatment focuses on eliminating symptoms, improving quality of life, and restoring a person's ability to lead a productive life.
The majority of people with schizophrenia will need lifelong antipsychotic medications. Psychosocial treatments can provide added benefit in people who are maintained on antipsychotics (see Schizophrenia Treatment).
Antipsychotic medications are generally divided into two groups -- conventional antipsychotics (also called typical antipsychotics), which are the older types, and atypical (or second-generation) antipsychotics, which are the newer medicines. Versacloz is an atypical antipsychotic medication.
Other atypical antipsychotic medications include:
- Aripiprazole (Abilify®)
- Asenapine (Saphris®)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®, Symbyax®)
- Paliperidone (Invega®)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel®, Seroquel XR®)
- Risperidone (Risperdal®)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon®).
(Click Clozapine Alternatives to learn more about other treatment options for schizophrenia.)
Versacloz contains the active medication clozapine. It is a very effective antipsychotic. However, clozapine, and therefore Versacloz, can cause a serious side effect known as agranulocytosis, which is an abnormally low level of white blood cells in the body. This can increase the risk for infections. Because of this potential side effect, the medication is generally reserved for people who were not adequately helped by other antipsychotic medications.
It is worthwhile to note that clozapine is also the active ingredient in other medications -- Clozaril® and FazaClo®. Clozaril comes in the form of a regular tablet that is taken by mouth. FazaClo is an orally disintegrating tablet, which is a type of tablet that is designed to dissolve on the tongue. Versacloz comes in the form of a liquid taken by mouth (an oral suspension). This makes it a good choice for people who do not like or cannot swallow pills.