Chantix Can Cause Mental Distress Side Effects


Many smokers turn to medicine to help them quit smoking, but people who use the popular drug Chantix often experience symptoms of mental distress that can be severe. Varenicline is the active ingredient in this medication, and it is effective at reducing reliance on nicotine. Marketed by Pfizer, it has been in use for several years, though the FDA strongly recommends it only be used in 12 week stints at a time. It has not been thoroughly tested on people under 18 or pregnant women, so these groups should avoid using it. Because it has been shown to cause severe side effects in some, many patients who have taken Chantix have filed a lawsuit for their suffering.

Varenicline is a partial agonist of nicotine receptors in the brain. It is chemically structured to activate the same receptors in the brain that nicotine does, but it is less efficient at doing so. It becomes a nicotine blocker only when nicotine is present by competing with the nicotine for receptor activation. It also reduces the efficiency at which the nicotine can chemically bond. It also reduces the positive feedback a user gets from smoking, slowly detaching him or her from dependency.

Varenicline works as an intermediate between regular nicotine use and removal of the chemical altogether, which many people find impossible to handle. In randomized controlled trials by Pfizer, Varenicline has shown to effect long-term abstinence twice as often compared to people who do not opt for pharmaceutical aid. Doctors recommend taking the medication for 12 weeks and having a doctor confirm that smoking cessation has taken place. If it has, the patient may continue treatment for another 12 weeks.

The problem with Varenicline is that its commercial form, Chantix, causes symptoms that are impossible to ignore. These adverse effects tend to be gastrointestinal or neurological in nature. The neurological issues, which are typically the more pronounced of the two, motivate a lot of people to file a Chantix related lawsuit for compensation. Gastrointestinal complications tend to be relatively minor, including nausea, indigestion, abdominal pain and change in taste. Chantix can cause distressing mental symptoms such as erratic behavior, drowsiness, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. In 2008, the FDA released its findings on the drug and stated that it was likely that the medication caused major neuropsychiatric effects. In 2009, the FDA required Pfizer to label its packaging with a black box warning—the strongest safety warning the FDA can place on an item. Experts believe that Varenicline can exacerbate psychiatric issues a user already has, so these people should use alternative smoking cessation methods.

Some cases associated with the product are believed to have been caused by nicotine withdrawal. Many people who have filed a Chantix related lawsuit, however, did not have a history of mental issues before suffering from complications associated with the medication. For some people, these Chantix symptoms didn’t show up until the patient stopped using the drug. This indicates that the drug may cause withdrawal in some people. Anyone who has taken this medication and experienced severe complications may consider consulting with a drug injury lawyer as soon as possible. These legal experts can help a plaintiff decide how to pursue their claim and put together a strong case for compensation.