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Varenicline is the chemical name of the drug sold under the trade name of Chantix in the United States, and Champix in Canada, Europe and other countries, marketed by Pfizer.

In November 2007 the FDA reported that it had received numerous reports that patients using Varenicline experienced serious side effects, the most notorious of which was suicidal behaviour. While some thought to associate this with nicotine withdrawal[1], it should be noted that

  • not all of those exhibiting suicidal behaviour had actually stopped smoking
  • lots of people exhibit nicotine withdrawal by other methods and don't commit suicide

In 2009, the FDA required the strongest warning possible on a medicine to be placed on Varenicline[2]

Other (non-trivial) symptoms reported:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia/nightmares
  • Increased danger to those with cardiovascular disease

In a document on the income and costs of smoking[3] (in which they perform lots of mathematical acrobatics[4]) the Policy Exchange state:

Varenicline is the most cost-effective treatment option in the NHS Stop Smoking Service. Studies consistently demonstrate it to be superior to any other therapy, but it is only used in 20% of cases. Varenicline should be offered as first line drug treatment for all patients wishing to quit smoking - this would cost £36 million.

Well, of course, if the patient commits suicide, they will stop smoking.