Stop-Smoking Drug Tested Despite Adverse Effects

Smoking-cessation drug Chantix has been linked to "adverse events."

As researchers begin testing Chantix to determine its effectiveness against drug abuse, some question whether its adverse side effects can cause serious psychatric events.

Soon after the quit-smoking pill Chantix debuted in 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began receiving reports of severe psychiatric disturbances in people taking it.

Experts who analyzed the FDA’s database of “serious adverse events” found Chantix was suspected in more cases of violence than any other prescription drug. It also generated more reports of suicide, self-injury, and depression than any other smoking-cessation therapy.

Despite this troubling link – which has led the FDA to require prominent warnings on the Chantix package insert – researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and other medical centers are now testing it in people who may be especially vulnerable to such problems. These include alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine addicts.

Testing is warranted, experts say, because Chantix is generally safe; millions worldwide have used it with no big complaints. And some addictions are so devastating that the benefits of a medication that promotes abstinence would far outweigh the risks of possible side effects.

No drugs have been approved to treat cocaine or meth addiction, despite years of research.

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