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Smoking Pilots Cannot Use Chantix To Quit

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, May 21, 2008 10:43 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Dangerous Drugs, Public Citizen, Psychiatric Problems, Defective Drugs

Pilots who want to quit can no longer use the smoking cessation drug, Chantix according to the FAA.


IMAGE SOURCE:  Pfizer Chantix Web site


Airline pilots who want to quit smoking can no longer do so with the help of the drug, Chantix also known as varenicline.

That decision was made Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) citing the potential for side effects that could make operating an airplane unsafe.

Chantix is a smoking cessation drug. In February, the FDA reported that some users had developed psychiatric episodes and that some had committed suicide.

The F.A.A. will notify about 150 pilots and 30 air traffic controllers who are currently using the drug that there has been a change in policy.  The group will notify pilot associations with both commercial and private pilots as members.   

The most recent bad news about Chantix comes from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit group that watches drugs.  Beside psychiatric problems, Chantix has been linked to falls, heart rhythm interruptions, heart attacks, diabetes and seizures, depression, blurred vision, dizziness, loss of consciousness and vivid dreams.

The FDA has received adverse reports on Chantix beginning in May 2006 through last year. There were a total of 227 reports of suicide attempts or suicides, nearly 400 cases of possible psychosis and more than 500 reports of aggression or hostility which included suicides, paranoia and hallucinations.

In February, the FDA issued an alert saying, “it appears increasingly likely that there is an between Chantix and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms.”

The watchdog group, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group has called for a black-box warning on Chantix. That is the strongest drug alert posted on a drug.

Concerns about Chantix drew national attention last year when Dallas musician, 34 year-old Carter Albrecht began acting irrationally and banging on a neighbor’s door. The neighbor, thinking he was an intruder, shot and killed Albrecht.

His family and friends said that behavior was completely out of Jeffrey’s character.

Made by Pfizer, Chantix was approved in the U.S. and European Union in 2006 and had sales of $883 million last year. More than six million people have used it. 

Pfizer issued a statement today that the Chantix label includes a warning that the drug might cause psychiatric problems and could impair driving. 

Chantix is taken up to twice a day for 12 weeks to help adults stop smoking.  Unlike a patch that replaces nicotine, Chantix works on the brain centers affected by nicotine and recreates some of the pleasing effects of nicotine.

Shares of Pfizer fell  22 cents to $19.79 in after-hours trading Wednesday. #


Anonymous User
Posted by R.AKBAR
Thursday, May 22, 2008 9:21 AM EST


Anonymous User
Posted by A. Franson
Thursday, May 22, 2008 10:30 AM EST

Took it for 3 weeks; extreme vivid dreams that woke me up every 2 1/1 hrs; terrible gas & bloating; a couple of very dizzy episodes. Quit taking it 2 weeks ago! Did help to stop smoking and am still quit.

Comments for this article are closed.

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