Thinking about Chantix? Think again.

Chantix a.k.a. Champix a.k.a. Varenicline

This post is a bit atypical for me. It has quite a few links to several articles. I am not a doctor. I am not a medical professional or scientist. I just notice the news with a discerning eye, thanks in part to the No Agenda Show

In 2006 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Chantix in the United States. Chantix is a prescription medicine to help adults 18 and over stop smoking. I have been noticing stories ever since then about potential severe side effects of this drug.

Let’s start with the most recent…

June 1, 2011
Chantix Approval Revoked in France
“The study revealed that Chantix is a whopping 18 times likelier to be associated with “violence and aggression” versus other drugs.”
“…Chantix has so much potential danger it should contain restrictions including exclusions for police, military, and others who must carry weapons.”

May 28, 2011 in the Daily Mail
High suicide rates related to anti-smoking drug Chantix were ‘left out of crucial safety review’
“Hundreds of reports of suicides and violent reactions tied to the stop-smoking drug Chantix were left out of a crucial government safety review.”

May 27, 2011 from MSNBC
Smoking-pill suicides overlooked in missing reports: Drugmaker sent data to FDA through ‘improper channels’
“Before last July, the FDA had logged 122 reports of suicides linked to Chantix, including 37 reported by Pfizer and 85 reported by health professionals or consumers, Moore reported. After the 150 new Pfizer reports were added, the total jumped to 272.”
And don’t think this is all new news…

February 10, 2008 in a feature in New York Magazine
This Is My Brain on Chantix
“I’d heard it was the most effective stop-smoking drug yet. So I took it. Then those reports of suicidal ideation began washing in.”

September 19, 2007 from ABC’s Good Morning America
Girlfriend Believes Chantix Contributed to Texas Musician’s Death
“Months earlier people had started posting concerns about Chantix online. There were reports of suicide. “I thought I was losing my mind,” wrote one poster. Another described a “super depressed meltdown.””

PubMed Health is a consumer health Web site produced by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The article from PubMed about Varenicline was last revised on October 1, 2009.
Varenicline (var en’ i kleen)
“Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts (thinking about harming or killing oneself or planning or trying to do so) while taking varenicline.”

When I read articles like these it makes me wonder about the motivations for pharmaceutical companies and the FDA. At some level aren’t they supposed to be trying to help people? It could seem that the love of power and money may have overtaken the number one priority. I remember once hearing about this thing called the Hippocratic Oath.

Primum non nocere