Serum haloperidol levels and clinical response in chronic, treatment-resistant schizophrenic patients
AbstractEleven chronic treatment-resistant schizophrenic in-patients were treated with haloperidol (HPL) or placebo with a fixed ascending dose schedule for 20 weeks. Seven patients relapsed and were withdrawn and five of these re-entered, single-blind, on known active treatment. Two weekly clinical ratings and weekly serum HPL levels were carried out throughout the study. More patients on placebo dropped out and at an earlier stage than those on active treatment but the difference was not statistically significant. Despite wide individual variations in both serum HPL levels and clinical response, these were positively correlated. HPL appeared to be of more value in the prevention of relapse than in symptom reduction. Overall, the clinical response was poor and a 'therapeutic window' could not be demonstrated either for the group as a whole or in any individual patient. There was no additional therapeutic benefit in exceeding serum HPL levels of 20 ng/ml in any of our patients. Since this serum level was achieved by daily doses of 10-40 mg HPL and the relationship between dose and serum level is linear, the use of serum HPL estimations is not likely to be of value in the routine clinical management of treatment-resistant patients.