Another report has indicated that smoking cessation drug Chantix (varenicline) has been linked to possible cardiovascular risks. An article by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) stated that Chantix use may increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes by as much as 72 percent in smokers who take it, even in those without heart disease. This follows a report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the use of Chantix carries an increased risk of certain adverse cardiovascular events in patients who have cardiovascular disease.
The researchers found that a high percentage of the participants taking Chantix had serious cardiovascular events compared with those taking the placebo.
Chantix is manufactured by Pfizer, and is one of the most popular anti-smoking drugs with $755 million in sales last year. Chantix is prescribed to both reduce cravings for and decrease the pleasurable effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products, therefore making it easier to quit smoking. The smoking cessation drug has been prescribed to more than 7 million people in the United States.
The most recent report by the CMAJ is based on a review of 14 studies of 8,216 smokers or tobacco users, most of whom were healthy. The researchers found that 52 (1.06 percent) of the participants taking Chantix had serious cardiovascular events compared with 27 (0.82 percent) of those taking the placebo. It was determined that Chantix raised a smoker's risk of having heart attacks, congestive heart failure and other cardiovascular problems such as an irregular heartbeat. Since one of the primary benefits of quitting smoking is to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers note that using Chantix increases smokers' risk for the same problems they are trying to avoid. The Canadian journal also cited a statistic that only 1 person in 10 that use the drug will quit smoking within a year of starting the drug, though Pfizer claims that 44% of Chantix users quit smoking within three months.
In the past, Chantix has come under scrutiny due to reports of negative side effects. In 2009, the FDA gave the drug its toughest boxed warning, cautioning about "serious neuropsychiatric events," including mood swings and suicidal behavior. Almost 2,000 cases are pending in the federal court system that name the drug as the cause of serious neuropsychiatric events including suicide, murder, attempted suicide, seizures, and blackouts. Additionally, last week the FDA decided that future Chantix labels would also include information about the increased risk of cardiovascular events, and that Pfizer would be required to conduct an analysis of clinical trials to determine the risk of adverse heart events.
Smoking is considered the number one preventable cause of premature deaths in the United States, so it is important to make a strong effort to quit smoking. Even though Chantix and other anti-smoking drugs can be extremely valuable tools when trying to quit, they can also carry significant risks. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of Chantix and consider exploring alternative quitting methods. If you or a family member has used Chantix and has experienced a cardiovascular event or other adverse side effects, you may be entitled to damages. Contact a dedicated Chantix attorney to see if you are eligible to pursue monetary compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.