Melbourne: As many as 15 people have committed suicide and hundreds have thought of killing themselves while taking the popular quit-smoking pill ``Champix`` since 2008, data from Australia’s drug regulator revealed. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said 206 ````suicide-related events```` and 15 suicides had been linked to the drug, which has been prescribed more than a million times since becoming available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme two and half years ago.
````There is significant information in the product and consumer information for varenicline [Champix] on the association between varenicline use and the development of suicidal ideation,```` she said. ````All medicines have potential risks. The TGA, as a regulator, has to consider the balance between the benefits offered by any medicine and the potential risks associated with its use. These risks and benefits also need to be considered when the medicine is prescribed.````Diego De Leo of the Griffith University said he hoped the TGA would commission independent research on the drug to ensure the risks of keeping it available were balanced with the benefits it offered smokers. De Leo said it was difficult to establish the cause of suicidal tendency in people taking the drug because many factors could contribute to their feelings, including life events, mental illness and other medications. Fiona Sharkie of Quitsaid the report would not change Quit`s advice to smokers: to discuss with their doctor whether the drug was appropriate for them. A Pfizer spokesman acknowledged the drug could be causing adverse events for people. ````Current evidence does not establish a causal link between Champix and these adverse events, but it cannot rule it out either,```` she said. ANI
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