FDA: Boxed Warning on Serious Mental Health Events to be Required for Chantix and Zyban

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it is requiring manufacturers to put a Boxed Warning on the prescribing information for the smoking cessation drugs Chantix (varenicline) and Zyban (bupropion). The warning will highlight the risk of serious mental health events including changes in behavior, depressed mood, hostility, and suicidal thoughts when taking these drugs.

"The risk of serious adverse events while taking these products must be weighed against the significant health benefits of quitting smoking," said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director, the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States and we know these products are effective aids in helping people quit."

Similar information on mental health events will be required for bupropion marketed as the antidepressant Wellbutrin and for generic versions of bupropion. These drugs already carry a Boxed Warning for suicidal behavior in treating psychiatric disorders.