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The Globe and Mail

Stop-smoking drug linked to psychiatric problems

U.S. researchers have given thumbs-down to a controversial smoking-cessation drug that has been linked to psychiatric problems including suicidal thoughts and aggression.

The medication, sold as Chantix in the United States and Champix in Canada, has been the subject of probes by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.

One FDA review concluded the drug, also known by the generic name varenicline, is no worse than nicotine-replacement patches.

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In the new study, however, the researchers came to an opposite conclusion after reviewing 3,249 case reports of smokers who experienced depressive symptoms while using medications to help them butt out.

"We found that Chantix is associated with more suicidal reports than any other smoking-cessation drug on the U.S. market," said study co-author Curt Furberg of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem N.C. "The risks simply outweigh the benefits." The findings were published in the journal PLoS One.

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