Anti-smoking drug Champix does not cause serious side effects, says study
9th September 2015
champixAnti-smoking drug Champix (varenicline) has received some bad press in the 9 years since it’s 2006 introduction in Britain, with complaints of the smoking cessation treatment being linked to behavioural changes, agitation, heart problems, and even suicide. However, new research conducted into Pfizer’s anti-smoking drug has suggested that Champix does not actually increase the risk of suicidal feelings or depression, as first thought. Currently, Champix is prescribed on the NHS to approximately 340,000 in England, with the backing of health watchdogs. Furthermore, this isn’t taking into account the 1,000s that have come to Medical Specialists® Pharmacy over the years and obtained the treatment via an online consultation. Patients that are prescribed Champix are advised to stop taking the drug and contact their doctor immediately should they begin to feel depressed or have suicidal feelings, whilst in the United States it has received such warnings that include there may be a raised risk of heart problems for patients that have a history of heart disease. The new study incorporated around 150,000 people attempting to stop smoking, and actually discovered nothing to show Champix increases the risk of depression or heart problems. Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Dusseldorf spent six months assessing the health of patients prescribed various stop smoking therapies, such as Champix, a different anti-smoking drug called Zyban (also known as bupropion), in addition to patients given nicotine replacement therapy such as patches or gum. The study, published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal, found that those patients taking Champix or Zyban were in fact no more likely to suffer a heart attack than those on nicotine replacement therapy, and deemed at no higher risk of suffering with depression or carrying out self-harm. Moreover, the using of Champix was actually found to be linked with a substantially decreased risk of numerous serious health problems, such as ischaemic heart disease, cerebral infarction, heart failure, arrhythmia and depression. Aziz Sheikh, one of the study's researchers and co-director of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Medical Informatics, said: “On the basis of our extensive analysis, we believe it is highly unlikely that varenicline has any significant adverse effects on cardiac or mental health. “Regulators such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should review their safety warning in relation to Champix as this may be unnecessarily limiting access to this effecting smoking cessation aid.” The study will come as a delight for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, who are already conducting a similar study regarding neuropsychiatric safety, of which the results are due later on in the year. Champix, marketed as ‘Chantix’ in the United States, amassed incredible worldwide sales of $647 million in 2014 alone, making the drug one of the biggest selling smoking cessation treatments.