Champix – the drug that reduces a smoker’s desire for cigarettes – is still filling the air with controversy.
Let’s take a look at some of the side effects our readers have experienced with the use of this drug: Depression, suicidal thoughts, nausea, abnormal dreams, dizziness, temper tantrums, gas, stomach aches, anger, muscular pains, muscle weakness, back pain, erratic temper tantrums, aggressiveness, anxiety, increased appetite, loss of appetite, paranoia, mood swings and drowsiness. Sounds like a great picnic…
It’s not just the smokers who are suffering but also those supporting them in their effort. Here is a quote from one of our female readers: “… our relationship is at risk. All the symptoms of depression, suicide, upset stomach, fatigue, muscle pain, paranoia, lack of sex drive, etc…has taken a huge toll…”
Now if that is not a cry for help, I don’t know what is… and she’s not even using Champix!
Champix: It’s a damn shame
Shortly after our article earlier this year the manufacturers of Champix (labelled as Chantix in the US), Pfizer updated the label of this drug with the following warning: “…patients who are attempting to quit smoking with Chantix should be observed for serious neuropsychiatric symptoms, including changes in behaviour, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviour.”
Good. So NOW there is a clear risk warning. But what about those already lost in the battle?
Since the drug’s launch in Britain in December 2006, the government’s drug safety watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has received 1,513 reports of adverse reactions, including 62 reports of suicidal feelings.
The drug is linked to 988 serious injuries in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2007, more than any other product available on the market. Among the reports were 28 suicides, 41 cases of homicidal thoughts, 224 reports of heart trouble, 525 reports of hostility or aggression, and 397 cases of possible psychosis.
Suicide, homicidal thoughts and psychosis?! Why is this drug still available to patients? Why has it not yet been withdrawn? Is the idea to quit smoking, not to preserve life instead of risking it further?
Champix: Bury your head in the sand
Despite all this controversy there are still people who think the drug is safe. A doctor from Wandsworth in London said the following: “I am convinced it is giving up smoking, and not the effects of Champix, which have caused some people to feel suicidal. Without nicotine, many people do become irritable, grouchy and depressed – even suicidal. This is because nicotine stimulates the production of dopamine in the brain, a chemical which induces feelings of happiness. Without it, some people can become down.”
Since when does attempting to hang oneself constitute to feeling “down”? At the moment it seems that whether you are smoking or trying to quit with the help of Champix, either way you may put your health at risk…
Surely the side-effects of this drug need urgent investigation, especially since over six million smokers worldwide have used the drug.
Matters in your own hands
If you are a smoker and you consider tackling the battle to stop smoking with the “help” of Champix there is a few essential things you should pay attention to:
- Speak to someone that used the drug.
- Discuss all other options of medication or stop-smoking-aids with your doctor.
- Discuss any concerns with reference to the side effects with your doctor BEFORE you start taking the drug.
- Tell your doctor if you have experienced depression or other mental health problems before taking Champix, as these symptoms may worsen while taking the drug.
- Stop taking Champix and tell your doctor right away if you, your family or caregiver have noticed any adverse symptoms such as thoughts of self-harm or of harming others.
Consider other ways to stop your habit, such as hypnosis and acupuncture. Cracking the code with any addiction is not easy and many people fail with their first attempt. It is important that you find a support system that works for you and that your loved ones understand your struggle and sincere desire to quit smoking and improve your health.
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Champix Side Effects â€“ Dangers Of Popular Drug Used To Quit Smoking, published online 07/01/08, www.thehealthierlife.co.uk
Champix: Is this smoking pill safe?, published online 22/01/08, dailymail.co.uk
Truth Will Out, by Chris Holmes excerpts for research from online publication at truthwillout.co.uk Buy Champix online, published online, buy-champix.co.uk
Anti-smoking drug Champix may spur depression, agitation, by The Canadian Press, published online 23/06/08
Anti-addiction pill Champix in suicide alert, published online 22/05/08, news.com.au