Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Champix and the heart

A number of media stories concern reports that Champix may be responsible for an elevated risk of heart attacks. The Mail, the Express, the Independent, Medical News Today and others including the Scotsman all carry the story. The increased risk is said to be 72 per cent, which while being around three times greater than the alleged risk of secondary smoke exposure causing lung cancer or heart disease is still not conclusive.

Alone among these stories, the Scotsman makes no mention of the injuries associated with Champix. Not everyone is affected by them, but many disturbing after-effects have been reported, some of which have led to suicide – enough to make many users and their friends call for the drug to be banned.  There are also reports that adverse incidents were reported through 'improper channels' (and here) in order to cover them up.

Study author Singh said: "I think our new research shifts the risk–benefit profile of varenicline. People should be concerned. They don't need Chantix to quit and this is another reason to consider avoiding Chantix altogether." Champix's history has been enough to get the drug withdrawn in France. It didn't need an inconclusive study on heart troubles to conclude that Champix could well be more trouble than it's worth.

Interestingly Medical News Today also states this:
Varenicline has been shown to modestly increase the chances of a successful quit attempt, compared to unassisted smoking cessation attempts. But overall, the majority of smokers who quit do so without any pharmaceutical assistance at all.
Surely this is a cue for a stop to ridiculous claims like this? and thousands of pounds of public money poured into smoking cessation aids, when most quitters don't need them.

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