Many people will have made their New Year’s resolution to quit smoking, but some could be getting more than they bargained for. People who want to quit smoking will try every remedy available from gum and lozenges to prescription medications like Zyban and Chantix. Most people have seen better results from prescriptions than other methods, but even these are not free from risk. Recent reports have sparked controversy surrounding Pfizer’s Chantix. In clinical trials Chantix has been shown be much more effective than any method ever tested in the past, because it works in a different way than other stop smoking aids. Chantix actually works inside the brain to block receptors from receiving the pleasurable effects of cigarette smoking. This method does seem to make a huge impact on reducing cravings for most smokers, but some have reported very serious side effects, including psychotic episodes, suicidal thoughts, and even suicide.
Growing sentiment of possible suicidal ideation has prompted an investigation by the FDA into Chantix and its alleged side effects. The Australian and European equivalents to the FDA have already decided that drug, marketed as Champix there, will carry an additional suicidal thought warning in their perspective markets. Last week the CBS evening news featured a story on the risks associated with Chantix containing an interview with a woman alleges the effects of Chantix are to blame for her attempted suicide.
While no causal relation has yet been established between Chantix and suicidal thoughts it is not that difficult to believe that some people may have strange reactions to drugs that make chemical and physical changes in the way portions of the brain function.
The FDA has requested that doctors monitor patients taking Chantix for possible adverse effects and has also requested that all adverse events associated with the drug be reported to the Adverse Event Reporting System. The next few weeks could be very important for the future of Chantix. If new patients taking the drug to help them keep their resolution are astounded by the results and have very few side effects the drug could be well on its way to attaining blockbuster status; however, if the FDA receives numerous reports of adverse effects Chantix may soon carry additional warnings on its label in the U.S. as well.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices and Implants.