Washington: A new study has found that the smoking-cessation drug varenicline (Chantix) substantially increases risk of depression or suicidal behaviour compared to other treatments.
It suggested that the drug, which already carries a “black box warning” from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is unsuitable for first-line use, given its poor safety profile.
The study included researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The team found that 90 percent of all reported suicides related to smoking- cessation drugs since 1998 implicated varenicline, even though it was on the market only four years in the nearly 13-year study period.
They also found that varenicline was eight times more likely to result in a reported case of suicidal behaviour or depression than nicotine replacement products.
“We found that Chantix is associated with more suicidal behaviour reports than any other smoking-cessation drug on the U.S. market. The risks simply outweigh the benefits,” said Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Public Health Sciences at Wake Forest Baptist, co-author of the study and a nationally recognized leader in drug safety research.
The study has been published in the Nov. 2 edition of the journal PLoS One, an online publication of the Public Library of Science.