On Monday 8 January 2024, The Times published an article about the antipsychotic drug clozapine which included some patients experiences of the medication. College President, Dr Lade Smith CBE, wrote a letter to The Times below.
I write in response to your article Britain’s most dangerous prescription drug — linked to 400 deaths a year. My deepest sympathies are with those who have lost a loved one in this way.
People living with psychoses such as schizophrenia often suffer from complex hallucinations and severe paranoia, which can increase their risk of suicidal feelings and premature death as a result.
Clozapine is the most effective medication available to relieve the symptoms of treatment resistant schizophrenia and this allows people to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives. It is proven to reduce mortality, both from suicide and natural causes, and has helped thousands of people return home from hospital.
The use of this medication needs to be monitored closely, by skilled practitioners, as it can be difficult to use and, as with many medications for complex conditions, can have serious side effects. However, for most patients the benefits of clozapine treatment will outweigh its risks.
If someone is concerned and thinks they may want to reduce, or stop taking antipsychotic medication, they should always seek the advice and support of their doctor first. Ultimately, patients should be supported to make evidence-based decisions about the medication they take, and the role of the clinician is to collaborate with and support safe use of those treatments that work.
Dr Lade Smith CBE, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists