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Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration removed the
popular smoking cessation drug Chantix from the list of medications that pilots
are allowed to take. The decision from the administration comes after a new
study linked the medication to mental confusion and other problems that could
place airline passengers at risk.


FAA spokesman Les Dorr said the agency took that step after
reviewing the study, which raises concerns about Chantix use by people
operating vehicles.


The study links the drug to loss of consciousness, lapses in
alertness, dizziness and muscle spasms. Dorr said the FAA has not heard of
crashes linked to Chantix. The FAA will send letters about the change to the
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, pilots’ unions and people “we know
are taking” the drug.


Over the past two years the FDA has updated the label of
Chantix several times. In February of this year the FDA revised the label to
warn that the drug had been linked to depression, suicidal ideation, and
suicide. Last week the FDA approved a new Chantix pharmacist medication guide  for distribution.


In the last quarter of 2007 Chantix accounted for almost
1000 reports of serious injury. This is more than any other drug. Only 35 drugs
accounted for 100 reports of serious injury.

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