Champix 5: No Wonder Drug

by Chris Holmes

*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.*

Until recently I was advising smokers to Google “Champix Suicides” if they wanted to hear the truth about this dangerous – and largely useless – medication. Nowadays, all you have to do is Google “Champix” and those warning sites are already appearing on the first page, along with all the shameless promotions and internet ‘pharmacies’ selling the stuff.

It was the Mirror group of newspapers that first announced the decision to make Champix available on the NHS here in the U.K. I just visited Mirror.co.uk and found that they list a total of four articles about Champix published by them since May 2007. They appear on the site like this:

1) NHS pill to stop smoking A pill to help smokers quit will be available on the NHS within weeks… (May 31st 07)

2) Anti-cig tablet – The Verdict Two Mirror readers tell how the wonder drug worked for them… (June 1st 07)

3) Quit cigs pill alarm A pill that helps smokers kick the habit is being probed over possible links to suicidal thoughts… (Nov 28 2007)

4 Man ‘killed by anti-smoking drug’ A grieving wife claims her husband killed himself after taking a new anti-smoking drug… (Jan 21 2008).

Quite a neat summary, isn’t it? Notice how the Mirror played their part in hyping it, though? Calling Champix a “pill that helps smokers kick the habit” as if that were simply a fact – when in truth at least 80% will still be smoking a year later, unless of course they have killed themselves. And referring to it as a “wonder drug”, once again perpetuating the myth of the magic pill and encouraging smokers to try it.

Of course, those people at The Mirror don’t make the news – let’s be clear about that. They just hold up a mirror to reality, don’t they, hence the name.  They’re not influencing anyone, are they?  I notice they didn’t call it a wonder drug any more in the fourth article, though. But don’t worry: there’ll be another “wonder drug” along soon, to distract you from the disturbing fact that the last one has been killing people, and didn’t work for the majority anyway. Check out the evidence here.

Now – those of you who checked out that link above – apparently that BBC reporter has been told that Champix out-performed “alternative” methods in scientific trials. The reporter is actually referring there to the pharmaceutical alternatives, not any type of Alternative Medicine. It is not hard to out-perform NRT or Zyban, which have long-term success rates of only 6% and 12% respectively. Hypnotherapy is far more successful than Champix, and without the risks.

Notice too how Pfizer try to muddy the waters with regard to the side-effects, talking about “nicotine withdrawal” and “underlying psychiatric problems”? No, their nasty little pill is screwing people’s brains up, and they’ll deny it as long as they can, that’s all. Look at the vast sums of money they are raking in – quite a lot of it is NHS cash, which the NHS can ill-afford – and the damn stuff doesn’t work for most smokers anyway! It is obscene.

That is why it is so good to see that sufferers are beginning to hit back, and encourage other to do the same. Follow this link to hear how Tim Wilkinson feels about Pfizer’s attitude to sufferers like himself and what he intends to do about it.  Scroll down the Champix article to find the Comments below, they are in date order and Tim’s first comment is dated October 2008:  (3 posts: Oct 5th, Dec 4th and 14th 2008)

Anyway, watch this space. I predict that the Champix death toll will go on rising, the court cases will pile up, and the newspaper reports will get grimmer and grimmer… just don’t take the damn stuff, folks. Doctors, don’t prescribe it – it isn’t safe and doesn’t work well enough to be worth the risk. Hypnotherapy, the Allen Carr method and acupuncture all work better than Champix, Zyban or NRT – that is a fact, and the longer medical authorities and pharmaceutical companies seek to deny that, the worse will be their credibility in the long run. Truth Will Out.

Oh, by the way – one or two comments have suggested this site is just self-promotion… if that were true, why would I mention the Allen Carr people and acupuncturists? I have no connection with either. I want smokers to be fully aware that there are other choices that don’t involve risk and are more effective anyway – take your pick, just don’t take the pills. And if you want to help, spread the word. Either way, feel free to comment – your post will appear on the site within 48 hours max. If the “Leave a Reply” box isn’t visible below this post, click on the word “Comments” below.   All views welcome.

The Drug That Never Was

32 thoughts on “Champix 5: No Wonder Drug”

  1. Please, PLEASE DO NOT start taking Champix!
    I had heard about all the warnings, but being desperate to try anything to help me stop smoking, I convinced myself I would be able to deal with any side effects. I couldn’t! I began having terrifying panic attacks, something I had never suffered from before, I became neurotic and paranoid, and I was constantly bursting into tears.
    I did lose the craving for a cigarette, but at what cost, I felt I was losing my mind. I gave them up after a month, but then had to go on a short course of valium, until this evil drug was out of my system.
    I am still determined to quit smoking, and have now purchased a book and cd to help me.
    I sincerely beg anyone who is considering taking Champix, please DONT.

  2. Josephine, thanks for the warning – I hope you are now making a full recovery from all of that.

    Another Champix-user told me they were given Valium to stop panic attacks whilst still taking Champix. Has Champix ever been tested for safety with Valium as a combination? No, of course not.

    You are not at any further risk from Champix now that it is out of your system, Josephine, and I’m not suggesting that a short course of Valium is risky. But that other doctor who just prescribed both at the same time, when there have been NO TRIALS AT ALL to test the safety of that combination, was quite prepared for the patient to be a guinea pig in that respect, when she was already having a bad reaction to the first drug. I think it makes more sense to discontinue the drug that is causing the bad reaction, not just throw more chemicals into the mix, but it shows you how some doctors think.

    Good luck with your book and cd Josephine! If the problem persists just find a hypnotherapist that specialises in smoking cessation. If you need more info on that, go to http://www.centralhypnotherapy.com

    By the way, I have been a full-time practising hypnotherapist for nine years now, and I can assure you that there are no risks involved in the hypnotherapy process, and it is a very successful method. More about that.

  3. I to have had my life ruined because of taking champix i have been having panick attacks and no longer like being on my own. I have been suffering with depression for the last 2 years since taking champix and i now take propranol and citlpam to calm me down i wouldnt advise anyone to take these tablets its not worth it. It was the worst thing i have ever done in my life its ruined not just my life but my partner and my 3 childrens as well, I am currently seeking guidence from a solicitor but as you no its hard to fight against big companys like that on your own if anyone else as been through similar things could you get in touch with me at [email protected]

  4. My partner started to take champix 4 weeks ago. About a week ago we went to our friend and had few drinks, he had few glasses of vodka. Afterwards, when we were at home we started to fight I slapped him and he hit me many times, blood went from my nose and was nearly everywhere. The strange thing is that my partner was never violent toward me, this was the first time he ever hit me. I was in a terrible shock and called police. He spent 2 days in custody and were put before sheriff court. Why there was nothing on champix leaflet saying that it may have an additive effect with alcohol? I believe that this is what happened as since he started taking 1 mg 2 a day he started to be verbally aggressive and he used to be also verbally aggressive when he had too much vodka. If anything was on the leaflet he would decide not to drink. Any idea how to sue them, which company would be/is interested in doing it? We live in Scotland. Thanks in advance for any cues.

  5. What I forgot to write is that when he was in custody and was off champix, he had hallucinations, first he heard a crying child (even thought that I come there with our daughter), then he heard some sex like vocalizations and thought that it’s me having sex to make guards let me to see him.

  6. About 3 months ago i started taking champix to give up smoking. After 2 months I have the odd strange thing happen to me the first thing was I woke up with a sore foot as if I had broke it. I had to take time work as i was unable to walk on it I thought it was particularry strange as i work in IT and never moved from my computer chair the whole weekend, to find I had a foot I could not walk on. The next thing i noticed was that I was completely sleeping the wrong way around on my bed i found this weird but then it came to me a few days later that I must be sleepwalking. This is something I very rarely do but have done it the odd time in childhood. it had been 6 weeks using champix and I decided that this must have been the thing that has been causing the sleepwalking. I also noticed that I was starting to feel depressed I had suffered from depression 2 years before taking champix but was better. At the time I put this off thinking it was just the money worries of christmas coming up. Anyway middle of November I went out for a few beers with work colleages for a christmas night out had about 6 pints. Which would be no problem for me usually.

    I stopped taking champix the day before going out as I thought this was down to all the strange sleepwalking and my mood being weird.

    Anyhow to cut a long story short I came home started fighting with everyone in the house from flicking children in the head pushing wife trying to punch stepson and walking about the house with a knife which I have absolutely no memory of. I have a good relationship with everyone in the house and now my life is ruined as obviously police were called as I scared the whole household. I’ve missed christmas with my wife and still awaiting the verdict of the 6 charges which I have pled guilty to as I have no memory of anything, just waking up in a police cell and ‘waking up’ like I was sleepwalking when the police arrived.

    I would advise anyone not to take champix it’s not worth it it’s ruined my life, my loving relationship with my wife and any carreer prospects that I might have had as i’m probably going to be classed as a section 1 offender for flicking a child in the head. Don’t take champix it’s not worth it!!!

    If anyone has details of a lawyer that has any experience in champix please let me know I would love to sue them for all the damage they have done to my life.

  7. Steven, I must apologise for the delay in moderating (approving) your post: I have been unable to access the site until today for reasons that would take too long to explain, but I’m back now.

    You’re not the first person to ask me about legal avenues; there are certainly actions under way and I believe some class actions are being prepared which you can probably learn more about by googling the question. You are certainly not on your own, and your particular experience is not unique either. If you read all the champix posts on this site and on other blogs you will find many, many others.

    Why should you be going through all this hell when the death of Carter Albrecht in the States raised these problems in 2007 for Christ’s sake? Pfizer’s sick greed and utter callousness is to blame for everything happening like this in 2008, 2009… are they going to carry on causing this mayhem all the way through 2010 and 2011 as well?

    Everyone – every normal, sensible person who is naturally horrified by all this – link up! Spread the word! Warn doctors, warn smokers, report the damn drug, let’s get it withdrawn!

  8. Worked for me.

    Over twenty cigarettes a day for twenty years and after ten days on the course I haven’t smoked since and that was over two years ago.

    The only side effect I had was a bit of nausea.

  9. Guess you’re one of the lucky ones, Marcus. What is really scary about this drug is its total unpredictability. Some people are fine on Champix, as it turns out – but it still only works for about 14% in the long run (1 year). Of course, Pfizer have frequently suggested that only people with a previous history of mental illness might be adversely affected: they are lying. There are now lots of reports of people going absolutely mental on this drug when there has never been anything remotely like that wrong with them before.

  10. i started champix seven days ago and i have never felt so ill, my mood is very low and i am being violently sick . I have suffered from depression in the past so i telephoned my g.p for advice.I was promptly told my the nhs cessation lady at my g.ps to continune with the tablets as there is no link between my low moods and these pills and that the sickness and sleepiness will wear off. After reading champix forums on the net and feeling like i do i have decided these pills are too risky for me.

  11. At this point in the Great Champix Global Experiment I find that terrifying. I have known about the connection between serious mood changes, suicide attempts and actual suicides since the summer of 2007. That’s three years ago, and this so-called ‘advisor’ is telling you there’s no link, and you should keep taking the suicide pills?

    Val, have a read of the comments following my original “Champix/Chantix” post, and those following “Champix Chantix 4 – Enough Already” – in fact, print them off and make her read all those horror accounts before her stupid, ignorant advice KILLS SOMEBODY.

    Val, you’ve done the right thing, but I’m sorry to have to tell you that if you already had a history of depression and it’s on your medical record, then they ignored the prescribing guidelines when they gave you Champix.

    I wish you a speedy recovery, please keep us posted.

  12. i have had depression, but both my doctors and the nhs cessation adviser told me they would be fne and both told me i was at no risk what so ever. i have an appointment next week with the adviser so i will print off the accounts of others and ask her why my medical history was ignored .Both my gp and nhs adviser were well aware of my history, but they still went for the hard sell of champix, telling me i probably wouldnt quit on nrt and this pill would work best.

  13. prescribing guidelines?? i’ve had severe depression for years, controlled with medication, currently taking champix, in week 3 of the course, off cigs for over a week after years of heavy smoking. My doctor never raised any concerns about my depression and taking this drug.

  14. And if you read all the comments following all ten of my posts on Champix, and the comments on smokers’ blogs and health blogs inviting comments on Champix, you will hear that over and over and over again.

    It’s sheer negligence, and anyone with a medical history of depression or mental health issues who wasn’t warned or (worse) was falsely reassured should complain.

  15. hi chris, on my second day of this pill and i want to stop now! Ive had a constant headache and the worst nightmares which ment i had no sleep, i feel dizzy and not myself, im really scared reading other peoples experiences. Im 22 and have smoked since i was 16, i really want to know can i just not have another pill(which would be my third) and return to normal? I want to stop smoking but i would much rather endure cravings than this!! I will try another method.

  16. I have been on Champix for 9 days now (I started the full dose yesterday) and I have to say, I’d rather the evils of patches than this drug (and that says a lot for me!)

    I’m 25 and have been diagnosed with the beginnings of lung disease due to smoking an average of 50 cigarettes a day for at least 7 years; I’ve also suffered from severe depression for many years, and take antidepressants to mange it – for the past 3 years I’ve been on a relatively even and happy keel. Having tried patches before, and pure willpower (which coincidentally worked the best – I managed 3 and a half months with no smoking this way!) ) I decided Champix was the next step to try. The doctor warned me my mood may drop, but I honestly didn’t think it would be that serious and gave it a go…

    For the first 3 days, everything went fine, then on Day 4, when I increased the dose to two half mg tablets a day I felt so depressed within half an hour of taking each pill (morning and evening) that all I could do was curl up in bed and sleep to ignore my mind – very frightening considering I hadn’t experienced feelings as intense as this in so long! For the next few days everything was OK but, when I increased to the full dose yesterday (Day 8) I immediately started suffering extreme nausea, shivering, disturbed dreams and sleep patterns. Took another this morning and feel like death on a stick – sick to my stomach, tired, unable to concentrate well and still smoking. In fact, I haven’t even had the slightest desire to cut down my smoking yet, let alone quit.

    So that’s my story…I have to confess I thought this site was quite funny, until I actually went on the things…they’re going in the bin now – I’m going to find another way!

  17. I like Day Smiley Face!

    The site IS funny, in places, though maybe not in the way you thought. Some of it is not funny at all, like the suicides we’ve been told of.

    yeah, bin’em Becki! look after your mind! Safest methods are hypnotherapy, acupuncture and the original Allen Carr book. But my advice is to get normal again before you try anything else, give yourself a break from the whole quitting thing before trying again.

  18. Thanks Chris – of course, I wasn’t implying that the suicide revelations were funny at all, purely that the atmosphere of the site implies that Champix is inherent doom. But now I’ve realised it is!

    Ironically, when I said I quit for over 3 months by willpower alone, I was lying a little, as I did read Allen Carr’s book too to help me and found it very eye-opening. I just made the stupid mistake (as he repeats time and time again NOT to) and had ‘just one cigarette.’ Think I may dig it out again and retrain my brain, once I’ve recovered a little that is….

    I have gone to the MHRA website and reported my symptoms there – I’d definitely urge any other sufferers to do the same. I’m grateful to this site more than anything, because before I read this, I wasn’t even aware of it.

    Good luck to you all with quitting smoking – remember – never give up, giving up (just don’t use Champix!)

  19. Hi I have been on champix for 9 weeks. I have had only a little sleeping peoblem where i have wild dreams and weight gain 7 kilos. i have not smoked for 7 weeks i know several people who have used this drug here in australia with little or no problems. i will keep going only 4 more weeks will keep you posted if i have any other issues.

  20. im 26yrs old, i’ve been on champix for 5 weeks now, the first week i was really depressed but i stayed on it anyways, i knew all the risk and dangers before i started it… but i kept reminding myself it was just the pill blowing things up.. it went away the second week, i would vomit twice a day after taking the pill but i told myself i would rather puke and quit than keep smoking, i’ve been smoke free for 2 weeks now and have never felt better. i get a tad nautious still but its starting to go away, im such in a good mood people around me noticed and they like my new attitude lol. but the only thing that is different i started sleepwalking 3 days ago, my partner tells me i sleep my head at my feet and told me one night i was passed out on the couch when i clearly remember going to bed… i woke up in bed aswell. i am a tad worried cause its out of my character but i have people around me keeping a close eye out for any abnormal behaviour, and i would stop if there was anything im not comfortable with. but so far so good. and i have no cravings what so ever. i plan on stopping the pill in 2 -3 weeks.

  21. I quit with Champix before and had no noticiable side effects.
    However, after having a smoking relative come and stay at our house for the last year, both my wife and I are smoking again.
    I’ve just popped the first 1mg tab and must admit I feel a bit sick. I guess I should have eased myself in…

  22. Hi.
    I left a post on the Womens site on Champix in 2008, I have done extensive research into the drug and also how it was tested, how it was given the ‘all clear’ in Australia and the rules and regulations that govern its perscription.
    I have received a number of emails that detail the horror stories of people who have taken Champix with adverse results.
    I have also extensively researched the possible legal action that could be taken against Pfizer.
    Pfizer will tie up any legal action against them in the courts for years, this will also be dependent on individuals’ medical records, if they can tie up a country (Nigeria) in the international courts for more than a decade…
    I have found a legal recourse against them that is foolproof and will scare them to death! If you or anyone close to you has been badly affected by Champix (Chantix in the U.S.) please contact me at [email protected]

    If you are not from Australia please put your country of origin in the subject line of your message.

  23. Hi Tim – you’ve been busy then!

    For those that don’t know, Tim was seriously harmed by Champix in 2008 and is determined to hold Pfizer to account. So I asked Tim if it would be OK to publish his email address on every Champix post on the site, to which he has replied:

    “Hi Chris.
    Please post my address as many times as you wish, from my original post to now I have been sent and heard dozens of horror stories that has surprised me as to not only the commonness of adverse reactions to Champix but also the overwhelmingly similar symptoms that people have had. I now think that the time has come to take action!”

    Yes – before more people are killed or have their lives otherwise ruined by The Evil Champix/Chantix/varenicline/suicide pills.

  24. I am on day 14 of the course. I won’t be taking them any more. I feel horrible! I’ve quit before cold turkey so I know it’s not lack of nicotine that’s making me feel so depressed. I have a history of depression, 2 lots of post natal. After easing these comments and now sure I shouldn’t have been prescribed champix. I just hope this feeling wears off soon, I’m a single mum with 3 small boys and I need to function again. Along with the depression, I’ve had a painful stomach since I first started the course which has resulted in terrible diarrhoea for the last 36 hours. On top of all this, very achey legs.
    I have within the last hour smoked, even though I didn’t want to, just to try and be normal towards my kids. I still feel the same. Not nicotine withdrawal then. Without doing my own research I wouldn’t have known this was all down to champix. And wouldn’t have found out from my cessation advisor either as I have 2 weekly appointments… Shouldn’t this be weekly to start?
    Evil drug. Just want to be normal again.

  25. i was on champix for 3 days and made me so ill.. dr advised me to stop taking them i did and havent had one for 3 days.. when i got up this morning i felt like i couldnt breathe so my body started wrenching i really thought my time was up just in 3 minutes .. it turned out was a panic attack id suffered them over 10 yrs ago and none was as bad as this morning…. DON NOT TAKE THIS HORRIBLE PILL ALTHOUGH OK FOR MOST ITS NOT GOOD FOR A PERCENTAGE OF PPL

  26. Many people don’t need Hypnotherapy or Medication to quit smoking,nicotine aversion is rapidly rising.
    Two examples of friends I know easily did it,
    Example 1 Every time person A had the urge for a cigarette they would put their fingers down their throat thus imitating great nausea,the brain soon puts 2 and 2 together and associates nausea with the said craving,simple idea however very complex.
    Example 2 Person B has a pet Terrier dog,collected some of the dogs excrement and placed it in a jar with water,every time B had the urge to smoke B would open the jar and inhale nasally the foul aroma,hence the brain started to associate foul smell with nicotine urge.
    The brain is a quick learner and soon adapts and creates new synaptic pathways rendering old ones redundant.Try it you may be quite amazed.

  27. Just to point out,these “self” aversion therapies are not without their risks albeit very small in comparison to medication like Zyban,Champix and Hypnotherapy which can lead to terrible psychological side effects.Would also like to point out this type of therapy works for alcohol which most of us know is too a powerful drug.

  28. On the contrary, Scott – I just don’t get around to moderating the comments to this site very often because I’m a very busy therapist.

    Sneaky little attempt, there, to suggest that HYPNOTHERAPY “can lead to terrible psychological side effects”!!!!

    No, that’s Zyban and Champix. I’ve been a full-time hypnotherapist for fifteen years now and I’ve never seen or heard of any genuine harmful side effects from hypnotherapy. How could there be, when it is only a communication process?

    Don’t know what your particular beef with hypnotherapy might be, but it’s not my problem so don’t bring it here, eh?

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