A recent study published by a Canadian journal on Monday, July 5, 2011, found that Chantix, a popular smoking cessation drug, can increase a smoker’s risk of heart problems. The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and included clinical trials with 8,216 healthy people who received either Chantix or a placebo.
Chantix currently has a boxed warning, which is FDA’s most restrictive safety label, according to CNN. The drug can cause changes in behavior, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts, hostility, and agitation.
Since the drug was approved in 2006, the heart problems are the latest concern raised in patient reports. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Sonal Singh, assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that Chantix can raise the risk of heart attacks and irregular heartbeats.
The Federal Aviation Administration for pilots and air-traffic controllers has banned this drug because it can also cause blackouts and loss of consciousness.
In the Canadian Study, the reported 52 out of 4,908 people who took Chantix had an increased risk of heart problems compared to 27 of the 3,308 participants in the study who took the placebo. CNN explains that on its face, the difference appears to only be .24 %. However, researchers calculated the actual risk to be 72% using a method of statistics that’s applied when evaluating multiple studies. Before this study, there were 14 previous ones conducted.
Singh said that when you quit smoking “you want to decrease your risk of a heart attack, instead of increasing a heart attack by 72%.”
Pfizer is the company that manufactures Chantix. The company disagrees with this study and stands by their smoking cessation drug. Chantix has been prescribed to more than seven million people in the U.S. Pfizer has made the following statement: “There is no reliable scientific evidence establishing that Chantix caused the behavior or conditions alleged in these cases.”
Just last month in June, FDA added an additional warning to Chantix, saying the drug “may be associated with a small, increased risk of certain cardiovascular adverse events in patients who have cardiovascular disease.”
Currently, there are about 2,000 cases pending in the federal court system that blame Chantix for neuropsychiatric effects. Some of the cases include suicides or attempted suicides and others include conditions such as depression, neuropsychiatric injury and depression. A small amount of those cases include ones which involve seizures or blackouts. A case in Pennsylvania is pending where a man shot his wife and then later killed himself. In another case pending, a woman was taking Chantix for about four days when she killed herself in front of her two children after getting in a fight about a peanut butter sandwich.
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