A previously controversial pill designed to help people quit smoking has been accused of raising the risk of heart problems in its users. Varenicline, which is supplied under the brand name of Champix, has been linked to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts on numerous occasions but is still sold today. It is used by around 140,000 people in Britain and accounted for one million prescriptions in 2010.
A study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland utilised 14 studies into the drug, containing over 8,000 smokers. 52 of 4,908 using Champix suffered cardiac problems, compared to 27 people of the 3,308 who were taking placebos. In reality this is only an increase from 0.82% to 1.06%, less than a quarter of a percent.
Dr Sonal Singh, from, said:
“This is just like driving a car without brakes. Going forward, I don’t know how we will convince our patients to take Champix for what, to increase your risk for heart attack?... People should be concerned. They don’t need Chantix to quit and this is another reason to avoid Chantix all together.”
“People want to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease but in this case they're taking a drug that increases the risk for the problems they're trying to avoid. They should be concerned.”
With the large amount of risks now associated with Champix, it seems very strange that it is still be prescriped to so many people in Britain.
The research has been challenged by the Velvet Glove blog here.