A study published yesterday in the Canadian Medical Associastion Journal claims that smokers who take the prescription smoking cessation medication Chantix may be at an increased risk of heart and cardiovascular problems. See the CNN story here.
In the study researchers examined data from clinical trials involving over 8,000 healthy individuals who were given Chantix or a placebo. The study concluded that those individuals taking Chantix were 72% more likely to experience serious adverse cardiovascular events including heart attack, congestive heart failure, and irregular heart beat among others.
Last month the FDA added a warning to the label of Chantix to warn consumers that the use of Chantix “may be associated with a small, increased risk of certain cardiovascular adverse events in patients who have cardiovascular disease.”
It is important to remember that on the whole adverse cardiac events in patients talking Chantix is still small, and patients should not abandon the medication without talking to their physician first.
The drug’s maker Pfizer, disagrees with the findings of the study and cited several limitations, mainly that the number of heart problems was so small that it “raises concerns about the authors’ conclusions.”
Cardiac risks are the most recent in a series of problems that been associated with the medication since its introduction into the market in 2006. Chantix has previously been linked to an increased risk of psychological events including hostility, agitation, depressed mood suicidal thoughts and carries the FDA’s strongest available warning (black box warning) for these events.
Chatix has been banned by the FAA to be taken by pilots and air-traffic controllers, as well as being banned for use by truck and bus drivers over concerns that the drug may cause blackouts or loss of consciousness.
While Chantix may be a wonder drug for some by aiding them in quitting a habit that kills millions people each and every year, it is becoming more and more apparent that the drug does not come without risks.