Chantix, known generically as varenicline, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 as a medication to help people quit smoking. Some key facts:
Manufacturer: Pfizer Inc.
Sales volume: Annual sales peaked in 2007 at $883 million. For the first nine months of this year, sales totaled $522 million. As of June, 2009, more than 7 million people in the U.S. had received a Chantix prescription.
Name: In Europe and other countries, varenicline is known as “Champix.” The FDA rejected that name for the U.S. market, calling it “overly fanciful.”
Serious side effects: By mid-2009, the government had received reports of approximately 100 suicides, 200 suicide attempts and 5,000 psychiatric symptoms overall.
New research: Pfizer is in discussions with the FDA regarding the design of a new trial studying the effects of Chantix on smokers with mental health disorders.