Anti-Smoking Pill Not a Threat to Mental Health

By Jenn Loro - 27 Apr '16 11:19AM

As opposed to popular perception, the controversial anti-smoking cessation drugs containing substances like varenicline and bupropion, which were previously linked to a number of serious neuropsychiatric side effects depression, hostility or suicidal tendencies are now declared safe for medical use, an international study says.

A large FDA-commissioned research involving various experts around the world recently found that leading smoking cessation drugs varenicline and bupropion are not tied to any significant increase in the level of neuropsychiatric adverse effects when compared to placebo and nicotine patch users in both patients with and without psychiatric conditions.. The two medications are currently marketed as Pfizer's Chantix and GlaxoSmithKline's Zyban respectively.

"There are one billion smokers in the world and nearly six million smoking-related deaths each year, but there are only three approved medication treatments for quitting: nicotine replacement therapies like the patch and the two non-nicotine medications, bupropion and varenicline," remarked lead author Robert Anthenelli of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine as per The Hans India report.

According to a Free Press Journal report, the large study was requested by the US Food and Drug Administration following mounting reports of alleged neuropsychiatric dangers of the abovementioned drugs. The randomized controlled trials involve the participation of more than 8, 000 patients.

Aside from clearing varenicline and bupropion from psychiatric disorders, the authors of the study even ascertained the efficacy of the drugs in helping patients abstain from smoking based on first hand evidence from trials and observations.

Currently, smoking cessation treatments are restrictively marketed in the US due to black box warnings placed on the prescription drugs' labels. Now that experts say that box medications are safe, drug manufacturers are keen on persuading the US regulatory agency to lift the safety advisory on the said drugs.

"We believe the available scientific information doesn't support a boxed warning," remarked Pfizer's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Freda C. Lewis-Hall as quoted by Yahoo News.

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