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Posted by: Scott Stewart, LAc., Dipl.
One of the most popular smoking cessation drugs, Chantix (Varenicline), has been associated with many adverse events and side-effects, but still remains on the market. Many users have experienced an array of neuropsychiatric events such as: depression, attempted suicide, suicide, hallucinations, aggressive behavior, etc. These adverse events have been reported to the FDA, which warranted a BLACK BOX label. Why is this dangerous drug still on the market? Simple answer . . . $$$$$$. The drug maker Pfizer is taking in billions of dollars a year from the global sale of this drug alone. Unfortunately, it’s much cheaper to pay a law suit instead of being ethically responsible.
Below is the warning for Chantix:
SERIOUS NEUROPSYCHIATRIC EVENTS
Serious neuropsychiatric events including, but not limited to, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide have been reported in patients taking CHANTIX. Some reported cases may have been complicated by the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal in patients who stopped smoking. Depressed mood may be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. Depression, rarely including suicidal ideation, has been reported in smokers undergoing a smoking cessation attempt without medication. However, some of these symptoms have occurred in patients taking CHANTIX who continued to smoke.
All patients being treated with CHANTIX should be observed for neuropsychiatric symptoms including changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicide-related events, including ideation, behavior, and attempted suicide. These symptoms, as well as worsening of pre-existing psychiatric illness and completed suicide, have been reported in some patients attempting to quit smoking while taking CHANTIX in the postmarketing experience. When symptoms were reported, most were during CHANTIX treatment, but some were following discontinuation of CHANTIX therapy.
These events have occurred in patients with and without pre-existing psychiatric disease. Patients with serious psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder did not participate in the premarketing studies of CHANTIX, and the safety and efficacy of CHANTIX in such patients has not been established.
Advise patients and caregivers that the patient should stop taking CHANTIX and contact a healthcare provider immediately if agitation, hostility, depressed mood, or changes in behavior or thinking that are not typical for the patient are observed, or if the patient develops suicidal ideation or suicidal behavior. In many postmarketing cases, resolution of symptoms after discontinuation of CHANTIX was reported, although in some cases the symptoms persisted; therefore, ongoing monitoring and supportive care should be provided until symptoms resolve.
The risks of CHANTIX should be weighed against the benefits of its use. CHANTIX has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of abstinence from smoking for as long as one year compared to treatment with placebo. The health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate and substantial.
I can assure you that none of these adverse events would ever occur if a natural therapy was utilized to quit smoking. Always remember there are no magic pills when it comes to health. Either you want to quit and be healthy or you don't. Health is about changing your lifestyle, not taking a pill.
Here are 2 links to a video report, and an abstract from a case study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices:
Part I (part II link is below video)