Champix – The “Quit Smoking” Prescription Drug

What is Champix?
Champix, generic name varenicline, is a prescription pill designed to help smokers stop smoking.

How does it work?
Champix works primarily in two ways. Firstly, it reduces the smoker’s craving for nicotine by binding to nicotine receptors in the brain and reduces the symptoms of withdrawal. Secondly, it reduces the satisfaction a smoker receives when smoking a cigarette.

How successful was it in clinical trials?
In trials, 44% of the group treated with Champix had stopped smoking after being treated for 12 weeks, as opposed to 11% of smokers taking the placebo. Over the same duration, it was also shown to be twice as effective as Zyban (bupropion), the other main anti-smoking drug treatment.

Has Champix been approved by the European Commission and the FDA for use as an aid to quitting smoking?
The European Commission approved Champix on September 29th, 2006 as a “stop smoking” aid for adults, based on the results from clinical trials. It should be noted that continued abstinence from cigarettes is higher (70% compared with 50%) when patients take the drug for 24 weeks as opposed to 12, so it may be appropriate for patients who have succeeded in quitting smoking at the 12 week point to take the drug for a further 12 weeks.

The FDA approved the drug in May 2006. See FDA approves novel drug for smoking cessation for further details.

Is Champix available on the NHS?
At the time of writing it is not available in England on the NHS, although once considered by NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) it is expected that approval for prescription on the NHS will be forthcoming.

It was approved for prescription on the NHS in Scotland on 14th January, 2007.

How is the drug taken and what is the recommended dose?
It is taken orally. For the first three days, the dosage is 0.5 mg once daily (the 0.5 mg tablet is white). For days four to seven, the dosage is 0.5 mg twice a day. From day eight until the end of the treatment, the dose is 1 mg twice a day (the 0.5 mg tablet is blue).

You should set a date to quit smoking, and start taking the drug one week before this date.

Did you know?

Champix is manufactured by Pfizer, the multinational drugs firm who discovered the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and the cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor.

Champix is known as Chantix in the US, but its generic name is varenicline.

The scientist who invented varenicline is an ex-smoker, whose father died from a smoking related illness.

86,500 deaths in England are caused by smoking related diseases every year, which is about 240 deaths per day.

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This website is does not represent and is not affiliated with Pfizer, the manufacturers of Champix.

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