Pfizer anti-smoking drug does not raise heart attack or suicide risk

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Pfizer has been boosted by data which shows that its blockbuster smoking cessation pill Champix does not raise the risk of heart attack or suicide, as previously thought.

The study, which involved over 150,000 smokers in England over six months, found that those taking Champix (varenicline), which is marketed as Chantix elsewhere, were at no higher risk of depression or suffering a heart attack than those using other therapies or nicotine replacement therapy.

The University of Edinburgh’s Aziz Sheikh, one of the study’s authors, said that regulators should review their safety warnings in relation to Champix “as this may be unnecessarily limiting access to this effective smoking cessation aid”. The US Food and Drug Administration has required Pfizer to put boxed warnings on the treatment to highlight the risks of neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular adverse events and thousands of lawsuits have been filed about an alleged risk in the USA.