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Safety review update of Chantix (varenicline) and risk of cardiovascular adverse events
This information reflects FDA's current analysis of data available to FDA concerning this drug. FDA intends to update this sheet when additional information or analyses become available.
FDA is informing the public about the results of a large, meta-analysis of clinical trials that compared patients who received the smoking cessation drug Chantix (varenicline) to patients who received a placebo. FDA required the manufacturer of Chantix to conduct the meta-analysis to further evaluate the cardiovascular safety of the drug, and believes it is important to let health care professionals and patients know about the results of this study. FDA first notified the public about a possible increased risk of cardiovascular adverse events with Chantix in its June 2011 Drug Safety Communication (DSC).
A higher occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events (a combined outcome of cardiovascular-related death, nonfatal heart attack, and nonfatal stroke) was observed in patients using Chantix compared to placebo. These events were uncommon in both the Chantix and placebo groups, and the increased risk was not statistically significant, which means it is uncertain whether the excess risk for the Chantix group was due to the drug or due to chance. However, the data were analyzed many different ways and consistently showed a higher occurrence of events in patients using Chantix, which makes it seem more likely that it is related to the drug and not purely a chance finding.
The meta-analysis findings of cardiovascular risk are similar to the findings in the smoking cessation clinical trial of patients with stable cardiovascular disease that was described in FDA's June 16, 2011 DSC. The Warnings and Precautions section of the Chantix label has been updated to include the results of the meta-analysis.
Health care professionals are advised to weigh the risks of Chantix against the benefits of its use. It is important to note that smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and Chantix is effective in helping patients to quit smoking and abstain from it for as long as one year. The health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate and substantial.