"The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed the labeling on the smoking cessation drug varenicline (Chantix, Pfizer Inc) to reflect concerns that the drug may lower tolerance to alcohol and is linked to a rare risk for seizures"...
Neuropsychiatric Symptoms and Suicidality
Serious neuropsychiatric symptoms have been reported in patients being treated with CHANTIX [see BOXED WARNING and ADVERSE REACTIONS]. These postmarketing reports have included changes in mood (including depression and mania), psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, homicidal ideation, hostility, agitation, anxiety, and panic, as well as suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide. Some reported cases may have been complicated by the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal in patients who stopped smoking. Depressed mood may be a symptom of nicotine withdrawal. Depression, rarely including suicidal ideation, has been reported in smokers undergoing a smoking cessation attempt without medication. However, some of these symptoms have occurred in patients taking CHANTIX who continued to smoke. When symptoms were reported, most were during CHANTIX treatment, but some were following discontinuation of CHANTIX therapy.
These events have occurred in patients with and without pre-existing psychiatric disease; some patients have experienced worsening of their psychiatric illnesses. All patients being treated with CHANTIX should be observed for neuropsychiatric symptoms or worsening of pre-existing psychiatric illness. Patients with serious psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder did not participate in the premarketing studies of CHANTIX, and the safety and efficacy of CHANTIX in such patients has not been established.
Advise patients and caregivers that the patient should stop taking CHANTIX and contact a healthcare provider immediately if agitation, depressed mood, changes in behavior or thinking that are not typical for the patient are observed, or if the patient develops suicidal ideation or suicidal behavior. In many postmarketing cases, resolution of symptoms after discontinuation of CHANTIX was reported, although in some cases the symptoms persisted, therefore, ongoing monitoring and supportive care should be provided until symptoms resolve.
The risks of CHANTIX should be weighed against the benefits of its use. CHANTIX has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of abstinence from smoking for as long as one year compared to treatment with placebo. The health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate and substantial.
Angioedema and Hypersensitivity Reactions
There have been postmarketing reports of hypersensitivity reactions including angioedema in patients treated with CHANTIX [see ADVERSE REACTIONS, and PATIENT INFORMATION]. Clinical signs included swelling of the face, mouth (tongue, lips, and gums), extremities, and neck (throat and larynx). There were infrequent reports of life-threatening angioedema requiring emergent medical attention due to respiratory compromise. Instruct patients to discontinue CHANTIX and immediately seek medical care if they experience these symptoms.
Serious Skin Reactions
There have been postmarketing reports of rare but serious skin reactions, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and erythema multiforme, in patients using CHANTIX [see ADVERSE REACTIONS]. As these skin reactions can be life-threatening, instruct patients to stop taking CHANTIX and contact a healthcare provider immediately at the first appearance of a skin rash with mucosal lesions or any other signs of hypersensitivity.
In a placebo-controlled clinical trial of CHANTIX administered to patients with stable cardiovascular disease, with approximately 350 patients per treatment arm, all-cause and cardiovascular mortality was lower in patients treated with CHANTIX, but certain nonfatal cardiovascular events occurred more frequently in patients treated with CHANTIX than in patients treated with placebo [see Clinical Trials Experience]. Table 1 below shows the incidence of deaths and of selected nonfatal serious cardiovascular events occurring more frequently in the CHANTIX arm compared to the placebo arm. These events were adjudicated by an independent blinded committee. Nonfatal serious cardiovascular events not listed occurred at the same incidence or more commonly in the placebo arm. Patients with more than one cardiovascular event of the same type are counted only once per row. Some of the patients requiring coronary revascularization underwent the procedure as part of management of nonfatal MI and hospitalization for angina.
Table 1: Mortality and Adjudicated Nonfatal Serious
Cardiovascular Events in the Placebo-Controlled CHANTIX Trial in Patients with
Stable Cardiovascular Disease
|Mortality and Cardiovascular Events||CHANTIX
|Mortality (Cardiovascular & All-cause up to 52 wks)|
|Cardiovascular death||1 (0.3)||2 (0.6)|
|All-cause mortality||2 (0.6)||5 (1.4)|
|Nonfatal Cardiovascular Events (rate on CHANTIX > Placebo)|
|Up to 30 days after treatment|
|Nonfatal myocardial infarction||4 (1.1)||1 (0.3)|
|Nonfatal Stroke||2 (0.6)||0 (0)|
|Beyond 30 days after treatment & up to 52 weeks|
|Nonfatal myocardial infarction||3 (0.8)||2 (0.6)|
|Need for coronary revascularization||7 (2.0)||2 (0.6)|
|Hospitalization for angina pectoris||6 (1.7)||4 (1.1)|
|Transient ischemia attack||1 (0.3)||0 (0)|
|New diagnosis of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or admission for a PVD procedure||5 (1.4)||2 (0.6)|
A meta-analysis of 15 clinical trials of ≥ 12 weeks treatment duration, including 7002 patients (4190 CHANTIX, 2812 placebo), was conducted to systematically assess the cardiovascular safety of CHANTIX. The study in patients with stable cardiovascular disease described above was included in the meta-analysis. There were lower rates of all-cause mortality (CHANTIX 6 [0.14%]; placebo 7 [0.25%]) and cardiovascular mortality (CHANTIX 2 [0.05%]; placebo 2 [0.07%]) in the CHANTIX arms compared with the placebo arms in the meta-analysis.
The key cardiovascular safety analysis included occurrence and timing of a composite endpoint of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events (MACE), defined as cardiovascular death, nonfatal MI, and nonfatal stroke. These events included in the endpoint were adjudicated by a blinded, independent committee. Overall, a small number of MACE occurred in the trials included in the metaanalysis, as described in Table 2. These events occurred primarily in patients with known cardiovascular disease.
Table 2: Number of MACE cases, Hazard Ratio and Rate
Difference in a Meta-Analysis of 15 Clinical Trials Comparing CHANTIX to
|MACE cases, n (%)||13 (0.31%)||6 (0.21%)|
|Patient-years of exposure||1316||839|
|Hazard Ratio (95% CI)|
|1.95 (0.79, 4.82)|
|Rate Difference per 1,001 patient-years (95% CI)|
|6.30 (-2.40, 15.10)|
|*Includes MACE occurring up to 30 days post treatment.|
The meta-analysis showed that exposure to CHANTIX resulted in a hazard ratio for MACE of 1.95 (95% confidence interval from 0.79 to 4.82) for patients up to 30 days after treatment; this is equivalent to an estimated increase of 6.3 MACE events per 1,000 patient-years of exposure. The meta-analysis showed higher rates of CV endpoints in patients on CHANTIX relative to placebo across different time frames and pre-specified sensitivity analyses, including various study groupings and CV outcomes. Although these findings were not statistically significant they were consistent. Because the number of events was small overall, the power for finding a statistically significant difference in a signal of this magnitude is low.
CHANTIX was not studied in patients with unstable cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular events occurring within two months before screening. Patients should be advised to notify a health care provider of new or worsening symptoms of cardiovascular disease. The risks of CHANTIX should be weighed against the benefits of its use in smokers with cardiovascular disease. Smoking is an independent and major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. CHANTIX has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of abstinence from smoking for as long as one year compared to treatment with placebo.
There have been postmarketing reports of traffic accidents, near-miss incidents in traffic, or other accidental injuries in patients taking CHANTIX. In some cases, the patients reported somnolence, dizziness, loss of consciousness or difficulty concentrating that resulted in impairment, or concern about potential impairment, in driving or operating machinery. Advise patients to use caution driving or operating machinery or engaging in other potentially hazardous activities until they know how CHANTIX may affect them.
Nausea was the most common adverse reaction reported with CHANTIX treatment. Nausea was generally described as mild or moderate and often transient; however, for some patients, it was persistent over several months. The incidence of nausea was dose-dependent. Initial dose-titration was beneficial in reducing the occurrence of nausea. For patients treated to the maximum recommended dose of 1 mg twice daily following initial dosage titration, the incidence of nausea was 30% compared with 10% in patients taking a comparable placebo regimen. In patients taking CHANTIX 0.5 mg twice daily following initial titration, the incidence was 16% compared with 11% for placebo. Approximately 3% of patients treated with CHANTIX 1 mg twice daily in studies involving 12 weeks of treatment discontinued treatment prematurely because of nausea. For patients with intolerable nausea, a dose reduction should be considered.
Patient Counseling Information
See Medication Guide
Initiate Treatment and Continue to Attempt to Quit if Lapse
Instruct patients to set a date to quit smoking and to initiate CHANTIX treatment one week before the quit date. Alternatively, the patient can begin CHANTIX dosing and then set a date to quit smoking between days 8 and 35 of treatment. Encourage patients to continue to attempt to quit if they have early lapses after quit day [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
How To Take
Advise patients that CHANTIX should be taken after eating, and with a full glass of water [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Starting Week Dosage
Instruct patients on how to titrate CHANTIX, beginning at a dose of 0.5 mg/day. Explain that one 0.5 mg tablet should be taken daily for the first three days, and that for the next four days, one 0.5 mg tablet should be taken in the morning and one 0.5 mg tablet should be taken in the evening [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Continuing Weeks Dosage
Advise patients that, after the first seven days, the dose should be increased to one 1 mg tablet in the morning and one 1 mg tablet in the evening [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Dosage Adjustment for CHANTIX or Other Drugs
Inform patients that nausea and insomnia are side effects of CHANTIX and are usually transient; however, advise patients that if they are persistently troubled by these symptoms, they should notify the prescribing physician so that a dose reduction can be considered. Inform patients that some drugs may require dose adjustment after quitting smoking [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Counseling and Support
Provide patients with educational materials and necessary counseling to support an attempt at quitting smoking [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
Inform patients that some patients have experienced changes in mood (including depression and mania), psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, homicidal ideation, aggression, anxiety, and panic, as well as suicidal ideation and suicide when attempting to quit smoking while taking CHANTIX. If patients develop agitation, hostility, depressed mood, or changes in behavior or thinking that are not typical for them, or if patients develop suicidal ideation or behavior, they should be urged to discontinue CHANTIX and report these symptoms to their healthcare provider immediately [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, ADVERSE REACTIONS].
History of Psychiatric Illness
Encourage patients to reveal any history of psychiatric illness prior to initiating treatment.
Inform patients that quitting smoking, with or without CHANTIX, may be associated with nicotine withdrawal symptoms (including depression or agitation) or exacerbation of pre-existing psychiatric illness.
Inform patients that there have been reports of angioedema, with swelling of the face, mouth (lip, gum, tongue) and neck (larynx and pharynx) that can lead to life-threatening respiratory compromise. Instruct patients to discontinue CHANTIX and immediately seek medical care if they experience these symptoms [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Serious Skin Reactions
Inform patients that serious skin reactions, such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and erythema multiforme, were reported by some patients taking CHANTIX. Advise patients to stop taking CHANTIX at the first sign of rash with mucosal lesions or skin reaction and contact a healthcare provider immediately [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Patients should be instructed to notify their health care providers of symptoms of new or worsening cardiovascular events and to seek immediate medical attention if they experience signs and symptoms of myocardial infarction or stroke. [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, and ADVERSE REACTIONS].
Driving or Operating Machinery
Advise patients to use caution driving or operating machinery until they know how quitting smoking and/or varenicline may affect them [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Vivid, Unusual, or Strange Dreams
Inform patients that they may experience vivid, unusual or strange dreams during treatment with CHANTIX.
Pregnancy and Lactation
Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant should be advised of: the risks of smoking to a pregnant mother and her developing baby, the potential risks of CHANTIX use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the benefits of smoking cessation with and without CHANTIX [see Use In Specific Populations].
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Lifetime carcinogenicity studies were performed in CD-1 mice and Sprague-Dawley rats. There was no evidence of a carcinogenic effect in mice administered varenicline by oral gavage for 2 years at doses up to 20 mg/kg/day (47 times the maximum recommended human daily exposure based on AUC). Rats were administered varenicline (1, 5, and 15 mg/kg/day) by oral gavage for 2 years. In male rats (n = 65 per sex per dose group), incidences of hibernoma (tumor of the brown fat) were increased at the mid dose (1 tumor, 5 mg/kg/day, 23 times the maximum recommended human daily exposure based on AUC) and maximum dose (2 tumors, 15 mg/kg/day, 67 times the maximum recommended human daily exposure based on AUC). The clinical relevance of this finding to humans has not been established. There was no evidence of carcinogenicity in female rats.
Varenicline was not genotoxic, with or without metabolic activation, in the following assays: Ames bacterial mutation assay; mammalian CHO/HGPRT assay; and tests for cytogenetic aberrations in vivo in rat bone marrow and in vitro in human lymphocytes.
Impairment of Fertility
There was no evidence of impairment of fertility in either male or female Sprague-Dawley rats administered varenicline succinate up to 15 mg/kg/day (67 and 36 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human daily exposure based on AUC at 1 mg twice daily). However, a decrease in fertility was noted in the offspring of pregnant rats who were administered varenicline succinate at an oral dose of 15 mg/kg/day (36 times the maximum recommended human daily exposure based on AUC at 1 mg twice daily). This decrease in fertility in the offspring of treated female rats was not evident at an oral dose of 3 mg/kg/day (9 times the maximum recommended human daily exposure based on AUC at 1 mg twice daily).
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category C
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of CHANTIX use in pregnant women. In animal studies, CHANTIX caused decreased fetal weights, increased auditory startle response, and decreased fertility in offspring. CHANTIX should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
In reproductive and developmental toxicity studies, pregnant rats and rabbits received varenicline succinate during organogenesis at oral doses up to 15 and 30 mg/kg/day, respectively. These exposures were 36 (rats) and 50 (rabbits) times the human exposure (based on AUC) at the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 1 mg twice daily. While no fetal structural abnormalities occurred in either species, reduced fetal weights occurred in rabbits at the highest dose (exposures 50 times the human exposure at the MRHD based on AUC). Fetal weight reduction did not occur at animal exposures 23 times the human exposure at the MRHD based on AUC.
In a pre- and postnatal development study, pregnant rats received up to 15 mg/kg/day of oral varenicline succinate from organogenesis through lactation. These resulted in exposures up to 36 times the human exposure (based on AUC) at the MRHD of 1 mg twice daily. Decreased fertility and increased auditory startle response occurred in offspring.
It is not known whether CHANTIX is excreted in human milk. In animal studies varenicline was excreted in milk of lactating animals. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from CHANTIX, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.
Safety and effectiveness of CHANTIX in pediatric patients have not been established.
A combined single- and multiple-dose pharmacokinetic study demonstrated that the pharmacokinetics of 1 mg varenicline given once daily or twice daily to 16 healthy elderly male and female smokers (aged 65-75 yrs) for 7 consecutive days was similar to that of younger subjects. No overall differences in safety or effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects, and other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients, but greater sensitivity of some older individuals cannot be ruled out.
Varenicline is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
No dosage adjustment is recommended for elderly patients.
Varenicline is substantially eliminated by renal glomerular filtration along with active tubular secretion. Dose reduction is not required in patients with mild to moderate renal impairment. For patients with severe renal impairment (estimated creatinine clearance < 30 mL/min), and for patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing hemodialysis, dosage adjustment is needed. [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/12/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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