One of the more influential decisions a person can make on their current and future health is whether to continue smoking or to quit.
Chantix is a smoking cessation drug that has gained popularity for its higher than average quit rates, but it also has drawn attention for its sometimes-scary side effects. Now there is new research suggesting that Chantix could aggravate risk of cardiovascular incidents- even in people who previously were considered low risk. Dr. John Spangler co-authored a “meta-analysis” published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and Spangler has been banging this drum for a long time:
“I had spoken to JAMA and LANCET and people from Pfizer, and emailed the FDA, and no one was very interested or concerned about the things I was finding,” Spangler says.
Spangler worked with Dr. Sonal Singh on the study. Singh is an assistant professor of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the two reviewed 14 previous studies on Chantix. What they found overall was that Chantix users had a 72% increased risk of being hospitalized for cardiovascular events versus study participants taking a placebo.
Singh said the drug could have a lower risk/benefit ration than previously thought:
“In the proportion of smokers that had never had heart disease, we saw an even greater risk of adverse events, about 150 percent increased risk,” says Singh.
“The main goal of smoking cessation is to reduce the risk of heart attack that comes with being a smoker, but this drug is doing the exact opposite. It’s increasing the risk of what they’re trying to avoid,” Singh says.
Singh noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered cardiovascular warnings when the drug came to market in 2006, but ultimately decided evidence for the side effects was inconclusive.