Chantix, known as Varenicline in its chemical form, is a prescription medication that is generally used to help people quit smoking. Chantix is produced by Pfizer Inc.. Users of Chantix are generally mid-range to heavy smokers. Chantix works by stimulating nicotine receptors in a matter similar to the way nicotine stimulates receptors. The key difference is that Chantix blocks nicotine from attaching to nicotine receptors and effectively reduces the pleasurable response to tobacco and the overall desire to smoke.
Inasmuch as Chantix directly targets receptors linked to pleasure, pain, and emotional response in the Brain , Chantix has been known to magnify pre-existing psychological illnesses and often causes clients to re-visit past issues. In addition, clients who showed no previous psychological illness also reported significant behavioral and mood changes, including suicidal ideation, depression, and unexplained aggression.
In November of 2007, the FDA issued a report discussing concerns over the potential links between Chantix and suicide, suicide ideation, and mood swings. Later, in February of 2008, the FDA commented that their evaluation concluded that it was “increasingly likely that there may be an association between Chantix and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms”. In July of 2009, the FDA began requiring that Pfizer include a prominent black box warning on all Chantix bottles, detailing the potential link between Chantix and suicide, depression, aggression, and mood swings.
In addition to its potentially fatal neuropsychiatric symptoms, Chantix has been linked to an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events. Researchers believe that patients using Chantix are up to 72% more likely to have heart attacks. Researchers found that patients with a previous history of heart attack were at heightened risk for a second heart attack and patients that never had any heart issues were also at elevated risk for cardiovascular drama. On June 16, 2011, the FDA formally issued a warning stating that Chantix may be associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Given it’s many serious adverse health effects, Chantix is currently the drug associated with the most FDA adverse event reports, meaning that it is currently the drug with the most complaints from doctors and patients of all drugs currently on the market.
According to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, there is a statistically significant link between Chantix and an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. According o the study, 52 of 4,908 patients who were taking Chantix experienced a serious cardiac event, compared to only 27 out of 3,308 who took the placebo. The data suggests that there may be a 72% increase in risk for cardiovascular events for Chantix users. A Later, FDA-sponsored clinical trial of 700 smokers with cardiovascular disease also found an increased incidence of “cardiovascular events”. The FDA included angina pectoris, nonfatal myocardial infarction (heart attack), the need for coronary revascularization, and peripheral vascular disease in its “cardiovascular events” distinction.
In addition to Cardiovascular Event reports, the FDA has also received 491 cases of suicidal ideation and depression. The FDA has received 39 reports of suicide that may have been Chantix related.
Given the results of several studies, the FDA has encouraged smokers to continue using Chantix to stop smoking, but to consult a health care physician immediately if any sign or symptom of cardiovascular event is noticeable.