varenicline, Chantix

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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What is varenicline, Chantix, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Varenicline is an oral drug that is used to promote cessation of smoking. It competes with nicotine from cigarettes for binding to nicotine receptors in the brain. Although varenicline stimulates nicotine receptors like nicotine, it blocks the stronger stimulation by nicotine. Therefore, smokers do not experience the full effect of smoking while taking varenicline. The FDA approved varenicline in May 2006.

What brand names are available for varenicline, Chantix?

Chantix

Is varenicline, Chantix available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for varenicline, Chantix?

Yes

What are the side effects of varenicline, Chantix?

The most common adverse effects of varenicline are:

Headaches, abnormal dreams and taste disturbance also are frequent side effects of varenicline. Varenicline is not addictive and is not a controlled substance; however, some patients may experience irritability and sleep disturbance if varenicline is abruptly discontinued. Varenicline may worsen symptoms of underlying heart disease. Patients may experience psychiatric symptoms such as behavioral changes, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal behavior during varenicline treatment. Patients should stop taking varenicline if psychiatric symptoms occur. Rare life threatening skin reactions and hypersensitivity reactions have been reported.

Quick Guide25 Effects of Smoking on Your Looks and Life

25 Effects of Smoking on Your Looks and Life
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Exposure to Secondhand Smoke May Lower Children's IQ

Medical Author Melissa Stöppler, M.D.
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR

A study shows that children who are exposed to tobacco smokein the home may have lower IQs than their unexposed peers.

Despite mounting evidence about the perils of secondhand tobacco smoke exposure in children, 40% of children in the United States are routinely exposed to secondhand smoke, termed environmental tobacco smoke(ETS), in their own homes. ETS has already been definitively linked to a number of medical problems in children, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS),colic, middle ear disease, worsening of asthmasymptoms, and other respiratory problems. Research has also begun to suggest that ETS may be neurotoxic, or damaging to the nervous system, with potential effects on the development of intellect and reasoning skills in children.

What is the dosage for varenicline, Chantix?

The recommended dose is 0.5 mg daily for 3 days followed by 0.5 mg twice daily for 4 days, then 1 mg twice daily for the remainder of the treatment period. Duration of therapy is 12 weeks. If treatment is successful, an additional 12 weeks is recommended to increase the chance of long-term abstinence. Those who do not respond or return to smoking after treatment should be encouraged to try again.

Which drugs or supplements interact with varenicline, Chantix?

Administering varenicline with the nicotine patch may lead to additional adverse effects.

Is varenicline, Chantix safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

It is not known whether varenicline is excreted in breast milk. Nursing mothers should consider discontinuing varenicline or breastfeeding because of the potential for adverse effects in the infant.

What else should I know about varenicline, Chantix?

What preparations of varenicline, Chantix are available?

Capsules: 0.5 and 0.1 mg

How should I keep varenicline, Chantix stored?

Varenicline should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Last Editorial Review: 7/27/2015

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Reviewed on 7/27/2015
References
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

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