Chantix's positive aspects may not outweigh risks

Jul 25, 2011

Smoking-cessation drug may lead to cardiovascular problems

The Pfizer smoking-cessation drug Chantix may be linked to a 72 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular problems in people who take it, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Experts conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of 14 clinical trials which included 8,216 patients.

"I stopped prescribing Chantix several months ago, as soon as we found out about this data," says Sonal Singh, a lead author of the study and a doctor and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The drug may be linked to strokes and congestive heart failure in patients, possibly leading to an increase in life insurance claims. Experts believe that the side effects associated with the drug outweigh its benefits.

Pfizer does not agree with the interpretation of the data, Bloomberg reports. The drug affects the chemical in the brain involved in controlling mood and behavior. As a result, it triggers a positive mood and can help remove some of the pleasure derived from smoking. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the study.  

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