Can Australian psychiatrists prescribe clozapine off-label for treatment-refractory bipolar disorder?

Tarun Bastiampillai, Stephen Allison, Arun Gupta, Sherry Kit Wa Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


The recent Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Guidelines (Malhi et al., 2015) for mood disorders supported clozapine’s use in treatment-refractory bipolar disorder (TRBD). The Guidelines noted that ‘Despite a lack of RCT evidence, clozapine is widely regarded as an option for treating severe refractory bipolar disorder’ (p. 1133). However, the Guidelines presented a major dilemma for psychiatrists as they also stated that the clozapine patient monitoring service (CPMS) would not allow prescription for any condition apart from schizophrenia.

The authors recognise the significance of the Guidelines recommending clozapine, having recently commented that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guidance was deficient in not including clozapine as an option for TRBD based on the evidence from 15 clinical trials that included 1044 patients (Bastiampillai et al., 2016). Clozapine might be the best antipsychotic medication for TRBD with unique mood-stabilising and anti-suicidal properties (Bastiampillai et al., 2016). Given the continuum that exists between schizo-affective disorder and schizophrenia, we would also suggest that clozapine be considered for treatment-refractory schizo-affective disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810-811
Number of pages2
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Clozapine
  • guidelines
  • Schizophrenia


Dive into the research topics of 'Can Australian psychiatrists prescribe clozapine off-label for treatment-refractory bipolar disorder?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this