Varenicline, Champix (CDN)/Chantix (US)
Description: Partial Nicotine Agonist; Smoking Cessation Aid
Brand Name US: Chantix
Canadian Equivalent: Champix
CSA NA – FDA Approved – REMS (N) – Can Ship
How Does It Work
Varenicline, Champix/Chantix is a partial neuronal α4 β2 nicotinic receptor agonist which prevents nicotine stimulation of the mesolimbic dopamine system associated with nicotine addiction. It also binds to the 5-HT3 receptor with moderate affinity, but the clinical significance is unknown. Varenicline stimulates dopamine activity but much less significantly than nicotine, resulting in decreased craving and withdrawal symptoms.
Indications For Use
Before starting Varenicline, Champix/Chantix make sure your physician is aware of any allergies or medications you currently take, if you have kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, a history of seizures, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. Varenicline, Champix/Chantix use has been associated with rare but serious adverse events such as hypersensitivity reactions, somnambulism (sleepwalking), and neuropsychiatric effects such as depression and suicidal ideation. If any behavioural changes are noted they should be reported to the prescriber immediately.
Days 1 to 3: 0.5 mg once daily.
Days 4 to 7: 0.5 mg twice daily.
Maintenance (day 8 and later): 1 mg twice daily; may consider a temporary or permanent dose reduction if the usual dose is not tolerated. Continue maintenance dose for 11 weeks (for a total of 12 weeks of treatment); if the patient successfully quits smoking at the end of 12 weeks, an additional 12-week course may increase the likelihood of success.
Pharmacist Tips On Using
How to Take: Follow instructions provided by physician/pharmacy label, take consistently at same times each day unless otherwise directed, store at room temperature. Administer after eating and with a full glass of water.
You Need to Avoid: Avoid alcohol consumption while on this medication as it may increase the risk of CNS depression and the rate of psychiatric side effects.
Headache, insomnia, abnormal dreams, irritability, suicidal ideation, depression, nausea, vomiting
Note this is not a complete list of side effects, only the most common ones
Frequently Asked Questions
When do I have to stop smoking after starting this medication?
May either choose a fixed quit date (ie, start varenicline, then quit on day 8) or a flexible quit date (ie, start varenicline, then quit between days 8 to 35). Alternatively, a gradual quit date (ie, start varenicline and reduce smoking 50% by week 4, reduce an additional 50% by week 8, and continue reducing with a goal of complete abstinence by week 12) is acceptable.