Chantix, also known as Varenicline (var en’ i kleen), is a prescription grade smoking cessation tablet that is intended to be taken orally once or twice a day with a full glass of water and food. Chantix is typically prescribed for a 12-week period, at the end of which, it is anticipated that many people will cease smoking. It has been on the market for about 5 years and became the best-selling drug of its type, both in the United States and overseas, until recent negative publicity began to detract from its success.
Formerly, the side effects associated with Chantix, as listed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (a division of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health) were nausea, constipation, gas, vomiting, heartburn, bad taste in the mouth, increased or decreased appetite, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, unusual dreams or nightmares, drowsiness, and headache. The more serious side effects included swelling of the face, tongue, lips, gums, throat, arms, or legs, difficulty swallowing or breathing, rash, swollen, red, peeling or blistering skin, and blisters in the mouth. Other sources reported risks such as loss of consciousness, visual disturbances, suicides, violence, depression, and worsening of diabetes.
Recently, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial that included 700 smokers with cardiovascular disease who were treated with Chantix or a placebo indicated a link between Chantix and adverse cardiovascular events. The cardiovascular events included angina pectoris, nonfatal myocardial infarction, need for coronary revascularization, and new diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease or admission for a procedure for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease. These warning are now being added to the Warnings and Precautions section and the patient Medication Guide.