Chantix/Champix: Are the success rates true?

I’ve been writing an article for another website on the best way to quit smoking (the Allen Carr method wins) and started looking up statistics for Chantix/Champix.

A search quickly throws About.com’s page on Chantix, which seems impressive.

According to Terry Martin’s article on the subject users achieved a 22% abstinence rate. Terry didn’t mention the dangers of Chantix, which seems irresponsible. (A 22% success rate would probably outweigh the dangers of the drugs, but people should at least have the all the information necessary to make an informed decision.)

Being aware of the fraud surrounding nicotine cessation aids (short term success acclaimed, long term failure ignored) I was a little bit suspicious.

Was the cessation rate successful after 1 week, three months or one year? It is relatively easy to give up smoking for a short time, much harder to stay off cigarettes in the long term. Indeed, a second reading revealed that only 2 out of 5 studies showed a 22% success rate.

As far as I can tell, the cessation rates were at one year.

What some digging did reveal was that the trials were conducted by the manufacturer, that the candidates were handpicked, and that intensive counseling was provided to the people on the trial.

According to WhyQuit, counselling alone can provide cessation rates of above 25%. There’s also a history of clinical trials proving to be more effective than actual usage. As Healthknot.com points out, trials conducted by manufacturers of nicotine gum produced success rates of 23-43%. However, when the same gum was sold over the counter, only a 7% cessation rate was achieved.

I’m also worried about the side-effects.

Doctors promoting the product assure us there are inconsequential. However, with side effects including nausea, vomiting, depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide, I’d like to know exactly what percent of people using the drug experience side effects. I am also very worried by the comments in this (pro-chantix) article, where several people claimed that the depression and suicidal thoughts did not go away – even after usage of Chantix had stopped!

Update: See here for an update on Chantix.

Related:

The Electronic Cigarette versus Chantix
Doctor Opposes Electronic Cigarette
Force Suicide Drugs on Mentally Ill Say Big Pharm Funded Scientists

5 thoughts on “Chantix/Champix: Are the success rates true?

  1. Hi there.
    I am on day 23 of Champix having quit on day 8.I am 61 years old and have been a relatively heavy smoker all my life.
    Over the years I have tried all the other known quitting methods and have failed miserably.
    Since starting Champix I have had very few side effects-nothing serious-and nothing unusual considering I am no longer smoking.
    There are alot of very negative sites on the net regarding Champix and I anm sure most of them are telling the truth but I wonder how many of these people had something wrong with them in the first place or that champix was contra indicative to something else they were taking.
    It obviously is not for everyone but for me it is working!!

  2. According to New Scientist’s 1992 report about the University of Iowa’s study into the various methods available to smokers at the time, hypnotherapy is the best method. Full details on the Truth Will Out site.

    John’s doing well, but that is not an outcome. In the original Champix trials, half the subjects who had quit during the first twelve weeks had started again by week 18. So the widely-trumpeted “44% success rate” (12 weeks figure) actually wasn’t, and according to another independent report detailed on the Truth Will Out site which looked at the results at one year, the percentage still not smoking twelve months after starting their course of Champix tablets had fallen to 14%.

    What this means is that the statement “it is working” is premature, because the 30% who started again anyway would also have said “it is working” at Day 23. Hopefully John will prove to be one of the lucky 14%, and hopefully the drug will not harm him as it has certainly harmed others, apparently at random.

    Hypnotherapy, by contrast, has never harmed anyone – and neither has the Allen Carr approach – which incorporates hypnotherapeutic methods – or acupuncture. All have proven track records higher than any of the meds. Zero risk. Just common sense really, isn’t it?

  3. I have no direct experience of champix. However I would say this in response to John Messik. I am genetically hypothyroid and a while ago started to wonder if natural thyroid would suit me better than the synthetic version that is routinely diagnosed.

    I tried this in tiny amounts. I seem to remember cutting 25 mcg tablets into four on the advice of a doctor and taking one a day.

    After three days my outlook had changed beyond comparison. I was constantly on a short fuse and enraged about absolutely everything … and in despair about everything.

    I had to make a special effort to remind myself that NOTHING had changed to account for such a violent change of mood, everything about my life was the same as before I took the natural thyroid hormone. I told the doctor I was going to stop taking it and why, and he said he found it difficult to believe too, but I promise you these kind of symptoms are not something that you invent.

    I’m talking about a natural hormone, not a drug. My experience teaches me that you don’t need to have an underlying condition in order for something to alter in your body chemistry to give you bad/dangerous/distressing thoughts. Those three days were the most frightening I have experienced and stand out a mile above the difficulties I had in adjusting the thyroid dose over a ten-year period.

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