Chantix: Quit Smoking with Depression and Suicide?


Just a little over six months after approving it for marketing, the FDA issued its first warning about the smoking cessation drug Chantix. Since the FDA lists tobacco use as “the single most preventable cause of death in the United States,” “the agency is committed to helping facilitate the development of products to help people quit smoking and improve their overall quality of life.” However, it seems that with Chantix the user may be just exchanging one form of preventable death for a tragic form of wrongful death, as the drug seems to cause depression and even an increase in suicidal ideation.

It is not yet known whether Chantix actually has any role in the cases of depression and suicidal thoughts, especially since nicotine withdrawal can lead to many similar symptoms. Some are quick to say that this is an example of the FDA being overly cautious, but it seems that this side effect is actually predictable, based on studies of the drug’s functional characteristics. Known generically as varenicline tartate salt, the drug works by blocking nicotine receptors in the brain, making it so that smoking or other tobacco use has no reward effects, making it easier for people to quit despite occasional lapses. However, the drug also has an affinity for the 5-HT3 serotonin receptor. This means that the drug might have the opposite effects of the anti-depressant drugs known as SSRIs.

Because this is a potentially significant class of pharmaceutical injuries, we will continue researching the drug and post more on it in the near future. In the meantime, if you have noticed a severe and potentially dangerous side effect of any prescription medication, contact today to get in touch with drug side effect lawyers in your area who can help you when the medical community is either unable or unwilling to do so.