Varenicline is the generic name for a drug many of you have heard of to help you stop smoking. The drug in question is more popularly known as Chantix. I have no investment in the company that makes this drug. It is the most successful smoking cessation drug on the market with a one year quit rate of about 50% if taken for 6 months. Keep in mind that nothing makes you stop smoking but some things help with the withdrawal symptoms and this, along with willpower and a conscious effort, can lead to a smoke free life.Unfortunately, many patients have refused the use of varenicline because of concerns over cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric risks that have been well publicized.
The only side effect I have heard of from my patients is what they describe as disturbing dreams.Now a large study of 164,766 patients, of which 51,450 took varenicline, has concluded that this drug does not seem to be associated with an increased risk of documented cardiovascular events, depression, or self-harm, when compared with 106,759 patients taking nicotine replacement therapy. These findings would suggest that patients should be more willing, along with physicians, to use varenicline to help with smoking cessation.
The original data given to the FDA when approving this drug had significant limitations, and the studies that have since been reviewed did not find a significant association between varenicline and cardiovascular events and the neuropsychiatric issues may have coexisted or worsened by withdrawal symptoms.