Chantix is the controversial smoking cessation drug that targets specific neuro receptors in the brain which react to nicotine. That response translates to feelings of pleasure a smoker derives from taking a puff. The theory behind Chantix is if you remove the pleasure associated with smoking, then what's the point? In the absence of pleasure, you eliminate the desire to smoke in the first place.
The problem, according to the recent history of the drug, is that individuals react differently to this change. While it has been reported that quit rates with Chantix are slightly higher than comparable anti-smoking treatments, Chantix side effects have been a concern.
To that end there have been reports of Chantix aggression and even incidents of Chantix suicide associated with Chantix use. The challenge associated with smoking cessation for most, appears to be compounded in some people by a negative reaction to the sudden loss of pleasure when the normal response to nicotine is suddenly interrupted.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while content to leave Chantix on the market, has nonetheless issued Chantix warnings associated with reports of aggression, suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide, as well as other adverse reactions.
Aggression is not confined to Chantix, as a 2011 study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices bears out. According to the study, published in the journal PloS One (1/1/11) in January of that year, data derived from the FDA's own Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) showed that no fewer than 31 prescription drugs were linked to reports of violent behavior.
Chantix aggression, and Chantix suicidal, is only a small part of the equation.
To that end, TIME (1/7/11) published a Top Ten list of drugs linked to violent behavior and aggression in the wake of the published study Various SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants and anti-psychotic drugs made the list. Some were seen to trigger violent behavior whereas others, while effectively quelling aggression when the medication was actively used, appear to bring out the worst in people when the medication is suddenly stopped.
Chantix (Varenicline) not only made the list: Chantix aggression and suicide vaulted Chantix to the top of that list. The study, as summarized in TIME, reported that Chantix was 18 times more likely to be linked to Chantix aggression and other violent behavior when compared to other drugs in its class. That's compared with a ratio of 1.9 for basic nicotine replacement, such as nicotine gum or the nicotine patch.
Due to the health risks associated with smoking??"together with slightly higher quit rates??"the FDA is prepared to maintain that the benefits of Chantix outweigh the risks, for clients in need to succeed in their smoking cessation goals. And while quit rates were also higher in clinical trials for Chantix, it should be noted that various reports suggested that trial participants were carefully screened and did not match the profile of the typical smoker in America. As well, it has been reported that study participants had access to one-on-one professional counseling while attempting smoking cessation on Chantix. Beyond their family doctor, most people do not have access to ongoing counseling.
READ MORE CHANTIX LEGAL NEWS
While the Newtown massacre continues to reverberate, attempts at discovering why it happened, and what lay at the root of suspected shooter Adam Lanza's actions will go on. However, the sad and shocking turn of events sheds new light on prescription drugs that have the potential to alter a person's normal behavior patterns.
Other Chantix side effects include vivid dreams, suicide ideation, lethargy and cardiovascular events. Various groups, including the aviation industry and the military, have forbidden the use of Chantix by key personnel. Chantix lawsuits have alleged varenicline triggered suicide and aggression and in some cases, Chantix death.