In addition to previously known side effects such as depression and suicide, a new study published last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that there is also a link between Chantix and cardiovascular episodes.  Specifically, researchers found that Chantix users have a 72 percent greater risk of suffering heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac issues even if they have no prior history of cardiovascular disease.  Although Chantix already carries a black box warning on its label because of its dangerous physiological side effects, the latest study has many wondering whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) will take further action as these new dangers come to light with the already widely criticized drug.  Last month, the FDA issued a safety communication about the risk of heart problems from Chantix in individuals with a history of cardiac disease.  This latest study, which provides further support for those findings, may warrant the FDA to reevaluate the risks associated with Chantix and strengthen the earlier warning.

It is estimated that Chantix has been prescribed to 13 million people.  Given that Chantix averages $800 million in annual sales, it is not surprising that Pfizer challenged the study’s findings, claiming that Chantix brought “immediate and substantial” benefits to individuals who were able to quit. The drug manufacturer also claimed that this latest study was based on too few heart-related events to conclude that there is a definitive risk. However, the study analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials involving 8,200 individuals with no history of cardiovascular disease.  Although Pfizer is likely to continue denying a link between its money-making drug and heart disease, given that Chantix has been linked to suicide, depression, violent behavior and now heart disease, smokers may start looking for something else to help them kick the habit.

Published July 15, 2011 by