Chantix is supposed to be taken twice a day for a total of 12 weeks. The FDA has recommended that for those who quit smoking during the first 12 weeks, a second round of 12-week therapy to increase the chance of the individuals staying off cigarettes is OK.
However, before one jumps on the bandwagon and develops Chantix mania, one should know more about the drug. Closer evaluation of the results show that only 50 percent of individuals stayed off cigarettes after a full 12-week course of therapy, and less than 25 percent were off cigarettes after one year. Further, in some studies, research was done with the support of Pfizer and some consultants were paid by the same company to undertake the study. What this means is that the data on Chantix appear dubious and should be viewed with a grain of salt.
Chantix is only available with a prescription and it is not cheap. A month’s supply is about $170-$200 and one has to take Chantix for 3 months without any guarantee that it will work.
Last month, the FDA approved safety-labeling modifications for varenicline tartrate tablets (Chantix, Pfizer, Inc) that include a black-box warning regarding the risk for severe neuropsychiatric symptoms. The possible neuropsychiatric problems that can occur include depression, mania, psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, homicidal ideation, hostility, agitation, anxiety, and panic, as well as suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide.
A number of events have already occurred in individuals with and without preexisting psychiatric disease. Most of the reported neuropsychiatric events occurred during treatment, but a few also have developed after withdrawal of varenicline therapy.
The FDA also cautions that motor vehicle crashes, near-miss accidents, and other unintentional injuries have occurred in individuals taking varenicline. In some cases, individuals have reported lethargy, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or difficulty concentrating, potentially resulting in injury.