No Heart Risk From Stop-Smoking Drugs Chantix and Zyban: Study

The popular stop-smoking drugs Chantix and Zyban pose no heart risks, according to a study paid for and conducted by the companies that make the drugs.

The study, which was requested by U.S. and European regulators and included thousands of smokers in North America and Europe, compared use of Pfizer's Chantix, GlaxoSmithKline's Zyban, nicotine patches or dummy pills for 12 weeks, the Associated Press reported.

After a year of follow-up, the two stop-smoking drugs were as safe for the heart as nicotine patches or dummy pills, according to the study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The findings are "enormously reassuring," Dr. Nancy Rigotti, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Tobacco Research and Treatment Center, told the AP. She was not involved in the research.

"We now know it's a lot safer to use these drugs to help people quit smoking than to continue smoking," Rigotti said.

Nicotine patches and the stop-smoking pills can potentially increase blood pressure. Chantix's packaging information warns about a possible small increased risk for heart attack and strokes in smokers with heart disease, the AP reported.

The study did not include smokers with severe heart disease, but many had high blood pressure or other risks for heart problems, according to the researchers.

Other recent studies have suggested that the drugs are safe for smokers with severe heart disease, said Dr. Neal Benowitz, lead author of the news study and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, the AP reported.

"The FDA is reviewing the findings of this study and substantial supporting documentation from the clinical trial, along with additional published medical literature, as we continue to evaluate this issue," Michael Felberbaum, a spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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