Smoking is associated with many dangerous and harmful effects on health. Many people with tobacco smoking addiction are looking for a way out of their addictions. In the 2006, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer released a prescription medication they called Chantix (or Champix outside the United States). The drug was promoted as being able to help people who wish to stop smoking quit.
Expectedly, people who have struggled with smoking cessation would welcome anything that promises them quick and effortless quitting. Therefore, when Pfizer announced that Chantix whose scientific name is Varenicline could help them quit, it came as a relief to many people. The question most people ask is whether this medication is effective or not, but is it safe considering the numerous recent lawsuits levied upon Pfizer regarding this stop smoking medication?
The illusion of a magic pill
But then again, who doesn’t want a magic pill to suddenly cure them of cigarette smoking? Sound too good to be true? It probably is. Many people who have taken Chantix have become suicidal with the families of the suicide victims blaming the stop smoking drug itself. Whether those people were pre-disposed to depression or suicide is a different story, but you can’t dismiss a staggering and growing number of possibilities. There have also been reports of outbursts of anger on Champix and in a recent murder case between 2 US Army soldiers, a judge has even allowed the Chantix defense to play out in court, i.e. that the accused of murder is blaming his Chantix medication for a factor in committing murder.
It should also be kept in mind that a company named Pfizer manufactures Chantix and is also maker of the drug Propecia/finasteride, a popular hair loss drug that has been reported to cause permanent, irreversible sexual side effects in men, severe depression, anxiety, loss of interest in life, loss of feeling and empathyÂ and brain fog- which has also led to patients committing suicide. Say what you will. I say Pfizer’s products like Propecia and Chantix/Champix and many more medications, even common anitbiotics like Cipro, are no joke. Long-term debilitating side effects are a possibility and the doctors don’t always warn patients adequately.
How Does Chantix Work?
It is not easy to understand how Chantix works without first discussing why tobacco smoking is addictive. The addictive substance in tobacco smoke is nicotine, a central nervous system stimulant. Using nicotine for a long time makes the body dependent on these stimulant effects. After sometime, dependence develops and your body stops to function properly without nicotine. Smoking then becomes habitual.
Chantix works as a partial agonist (partial stimulant) of the brain at the nicotine receptors. The manufacturer says that this medication is a weaker partial agonist and therefore will blunt the withdrawal effects associated with quitting smoking. This means it is different from nicotine antagonists (such as cystisine), bupropion (Zyban) and nicotine replacement therapy. Chantix is marketed as capable of reducing nicotine cravings for and minimizes the pleasurable effects of tobacco products including cigarettes.
If you find other reviews online, it’s kind of crazy. You’ll hear people praise Chantix for how good it is, and how it’s their 3rd time even of being on it! That to me, means it doesn’t work, not that it’s good, and it’s not exactly a solution to cigarette or even smokeless tobacco addiction! It’s just a drug-for-another-drug exchange! And the prices for the meds are as much as tobacco smoking too. But if you’re not smoking and you don’t want to kill yourself after taking it, maybe it’s still an option for you.
The Upside to Chantix: The Pros
Varenicline is touted by its manufacturers as well as some users as having the following advantages in smoking cessation.
If used in conjunction with other smoking cessation programs such as rehabilitation, Chantix can help those who have struggled with smoking to progressively quite the habit.
One must comply with only the determined, prescribed dosage. It is administered in a dosage of 1mg per day titrated in a particular manner.
The package comes with clear instructions on how to use the drug but it is only administered on prescription by a health care provider.
Chantix is FDA approved, unlike certain popular smoke cessation products such as e-cigarettes. I would still take FDA approval with a grain of salt.
It indirectly helps to eliminate the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
The Downside to Chantix: The Cons, Side Effects, and Cause for Concern
Clinical studies done so far indicate that Chantix long-term effects can lead to a variety of life-threatening side effects like suicidal ideation. Here are some of the most common side effects of Varenicline.
The most common complaint by users of Varenicline is nausea.
Less commonly it may cause headache, sleeping difficulties as well as abnormal dreams.
Rarely Varenicline may cause flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting and changes in taste sensations.
Although the FDA approved this drug, in 2007 they sent out a warning that Chantix may accentuate the risks of depression and suicide tendencies as well as other psychiatric problems. in 2011, they announced the association of Varenicline with small risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Bottom line on Chantix… No thanks, not for me
In as much as Chantix is promoted as capable of helping people to quit smoking, studies indicate that the safety concerns outweigh any benefits that may be associated with its use. If you were to ask me, I would recommend that you first discuss with your doctor. Better still, you can avoid it altogether.
I prefer a natural stop smoking aid anyday of the week to all these chemicals and pills. That’s me though.
Recently ordered by FDA and scheduled for the Fall 2014, a review on Chantix to address public concerns over suicides and major side effects linked to Chantix will be held. Could it just be political theater? After all, the FDA could just remove the pill from the market, but then there goes that billion dollars spent on getting it through the regulation and approval process, and if the FDA cracks down too hard, the FDA won’t have any customers coming its way any more.
This could partially explain why doctors these days are just unloading pills faster than Bayer, Merck, and Pfizer can make them. Could it be the revolving door between the FDA and pharmaceutical giants? Read that article for a very telling truth about exactly how drugs are approved and prescribed, how natural supplements are kept out of the market for treating medical conditions, and how the bloated and high costs of this broken system are draining the American economy and preventing true affordable and effective medical care from everyone.