Pfizer's Chantix has been the best selling smoking cessation aid in a new line of products created by several pharmaceutical companies. The drug was approved by the FDA for use as a prescription drug to help smokers quit. Chantix works to stimulate the brain to release low amounts of dopamine, the chemical responsible for the pleasurable feelings caused by smoking. As a person uses Chantix and enjoys the feel-good sensations brought about by smoking, without actually smoking, their dependence on the pleasurable sensations are slowly reduced because the receptors in the brain are not stimulated the way they were in the past. Chantix is promoted for use as an aid to smoking cessation that should preferably be used with other quitting programs, including behavior modification therapy and support groups.
Effects of Chantix
When reports of the side effects of this medication began to surface, they were restricted to nausea, headaches, vomiting, insomnia and digestion problems. In 2006, FDA studies revealed that there was a "potential" but unconfirmed link between the use of Chantix and mood disorders. However, by February of 2008, the warning status for Chantix had moved from being a "potential" cause of mood disorders, to having an "increasingly likely association" of being connected to these neuropsychiatric problems. The FDA's findings were illustrated by statistics – the agency received 27 reports of suicide connected to Chantix use, as well as at least 400 cases of suicidal tendencies in patients.
Chantix now comes with an updated warning in its prescription information section that cautions users, explaining serious neuropsychiatric symptoms have been linked to Chantix use. The prescription information also warns that people using Chantix should be closely observed for signs of mood disorders, depression, agitation, sudden changes in behavior as well as suicidal ideation (fantasies of suicide) and suicidal tendencies. The warnings also make special mention of people who suffer from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depressive disorders.
Is Chantix Safe for Use?
If you are still using Chantix medications for smoking cessation, it's very important to know that the drug has been linked to depressed moods and agitated behavior that may include dangerous and aggressive physical behavior, suicidal tendencies and thoughts of suicide. Testing for the medication did not involve people suffering from serious psychiatric illnesses, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, so there is no information on whether these conditions could be exacerbated by Chantix use. If you already suffer from any form of psychiatric illness, in whatever level of intensity, take your doctors' advice before beginning the medication.