*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*
Calling all smokers in New Zealand, and their loved ones: this is what is heading your way in November 2010 **Update December 2010: it’s already approved, but New Zealanders need to be warned about taking Champix:
“…the crashing wave of deep and dark depression, bursting into tears for no reason at all, the feeling of no light in the world and that nobody would even care if you were gone and worst of them all the belief that that low dark feeling was something that could only be fixed by taking your own life. Ive just lived this hell after taking Champix for a mere 4 weeks, first 3 were fine but wow that 4th week and i roller-coasted from ready to punch someone in the face for talking too loudly to wanting to floor my car 200 kms into a wall. I had read online about people reactions before mine kicked in and honestly thought everyone was a nut-job bad mouthing a drug that worked as i had stopped smoking and felt great, but let me tell anyone who reads this and brushes off the more extreme sounding posts IT IS NO JOKE. I went from wanting to simply give up smoking one week to sitting in a mental health clinic 4 weeks later continually in disbelief at how the hell i managed to end up there.” (Andrew)
This is becoming a matter of urgent concern to smokers anywhere, but particularly any smokers in New Zealand, following a story in the New Zealand Herald concerning the approval of public funding for Champix despite concerns about suicides linked to the drug – a story which partially reveals the kind of dodgy deals drug companies do with governments to push them into accepting things they’re not altogether happy about. In this case Champix was sold as part of a package including a number of drugs, and the suggestion is that the NZ government could not get those drugs at that price without taking Champix as well – a sharp practice that should frankly be illegal where medications are concerned, especially a medication that has already been linked to deaths, which is exactly what the former hesitation was about. Particularly suspect is the fact that the New Zealand government drug funding body Pharmac has apparently changed its mind about Champix for no good reason at all – see extract below from NZ Herald.co.nz:
“Pharmac medical director Peter Moody said medical advisers had “cautiously endorsed” the use of Champix.
The agency is calling for public submissions on the package deal from Pfizer before the taxpayer subsidy kicks in on November 1.
“Quite often [drug] companies will offer as a package a number of medications at the same time. We will look at the total deal and look at the benefits we’re getting.”
He said package deals meant all the drugs from the company had to be taken. “You can’t cherry pick.”
A Pharmac spokesman said the price reduction on Champix had been agreed and “in return for that we get two new products and wider access to one other product”.
A spokeswoman for Pfizer said the package deal was suggested by Pharmac, rather than the other way around. The drug company had submitted four separate applications to get the drugs funded.
She said the benefits of Champix outweighed the risks. The subsidy meant “more people will be able to access Champix to improve their chances of quitting smoking”.
Pharmac had twice considered backing Champix but rejected the move because of safety concerns.
Pharmac papers stated that it “appears increasingly likely that there is an association between varenicline [Champix] and serious neuro-psychiatric events”.
It also questioned whether Champix was as successful as nicotine replacement therapies.”
Yeah – quite right too: although earlier in the piece reporter David Fisher described Champix as: “a hugely successful drug used to quit smoking” which is “estimated to be successful in up to half the cases in which people use it to try to stop smoking”, in fact it is nothing of the kind. Long term success rates are about 14% for Champix, about the same as Zyban and only a little higher than Nicotine Replacement Poisoning, which might be pretty useless but at least it doesn’t make anyone kill themselves.
Put simply, this drug should NOT be approved for public funding in New Zealand because the success rate is pure hype and there are smokers alive and well in New Zealand today who will be dead within the year if the drug is made widely available. That means husbands and wives becoming bereaved single parents, kids left without a mum or a dad – and all because of cynical drug company lies and corruption. While there’s still time, I’m going to try to draw attention to this crazy decision and hopefully the innocent smokers of New Zealand can yet be saved from having the same evil stunt pulled on them as the innocent Champix victims in the USA, the UK and Australia.
Hypnotherapy is the best method for smoking cessation: New Scientist magazine
Here’s the NZ Herald article in full
Actual failure rate for Champix here.
18.09.10: I received this message by email, here it is in full:
“Chris, i stumbled onto your site while looking up the side effects or as the Drs
have since told me “adverse effects” of Champix, i immediatly found
solace in the fact that many people’s descriptions matched mine, the crashing
wave of deep and dark depression, bursting into tears for no reason at all, the
feeling of no light in the world and that nobody would even care if you were
gone and worst of them all the belief that that low dark feeling was something
that could only be fixed by taking your own life. Ive just lived this hell after
taking Champix for a mere 4 weeks, first 3 were fine but wow that 4th week and i
roller-coasted from ready to punch someone in the face for talking to loudly to
wanting to floor my car 200 kms into a wall. I had read online about people
reactions before mine kicked in and honestly thought everyone was a nut-job bad
mouthing a drug that worked as i had stopped smoking and felt great, but let me
tell anyone who reads this and brushes off the more extreme sounding posts IT IS
NO JOKE. I went from wanting to simply give up smoking one week to sitting in a
mental health clinic 4 weeks later continually in disbelief at how the hell i
managed to end up there.
Now that Ive had my say to people who don’t believe it happens i want to give
every person that has fallen into that deep depression and suicidal thoughts
that have searched the web for info some hope and a true light at the end of the
tunnel because it was the one thing i was searching for but did not find. The
cause of your feelings is 100% Champix related and your brain WILL experience
happiness and normal thinking again, everyone’s neurotransmitters work
differently but what Ive found is however long it actually took the Champix to
work will roughly decide how long your brain takes to return to normal. Im no Dr
by any means but i was prescribed a low dosage of Valium / diazepan to
“take the edge off” from my Dr who told me in his experience giving
anti depressants not only didn’t work with champix related depression but in
some cases made it worse. Let me tell you the Valium worked to kill the anxiety
that came from continually thinking about killing myself and within a few days
the thoughts the anger and those messed up dreams stopped. So please if your
having the side effects as extreme as some i urge you to see your Dr or if your
in Australia get a referral to the mental access team through the various
Hospitals they helped me so much and i owe them my life literally. Scarily
enough their own words to me were you aren’t the first and you definitely wont
be the last to suffer this from Champix. I implore anyone considering this drug
to really think hard as it seems the chances of you successfully quitting aren’t
far ahead of the chance you’ll be sitting in a psyche ward as i did, even as bad
as cold turkey can feel its not even 1/1000 of how bad the reaction that i
experienced is. My only wish is to spread this exact message through as many
blogs and info sites about bad reactions to Champix, Chris feel free to use my
post anywhere you like, people suffering the effects NEED to see that there is
light at the end of this black tunnel.”
There are many more disturbing accounts like this in the Champix Chantix blog section of this site, and on many other blogs on the web. My urgent advice to smokers is to read around before deciding whether to try this medication.