Anti-Smoking Chantix, Zyban Pose Suicide Risk: FDA

Smokers with mental illnesses should avoid them, agency says
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jul 1, 2009 4:59 PM CDT
Chantix and Zyban, must carry the FDA's strongest safety warning over side effects including depression and suicidal thoughts.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, file)

(Newser) – The Food and Drug Administration is warning smokers about serious mental-illness risks of two smoking-cessation drugs, as reported suicides among their users increase. Chantix and Zyban must now carry the agency’s strongest warning label, the New York Times reports. The FDA isn’t trying to scare patients, an official says: “You should just be careful.”

The FDA has documented 100 successful suicides and twice as many suicide attempts among users of Pfizer’s Chantix since 2007. Users of GlaxoSmithKline’s Zyban exhibit a similar trend, though to a much lesser extent. It’s unclear why the drugs affect mental health. Nicotine withdrawal is a possibility in some suicide cases, but others involved patients who hadn’t yet stopped smoking.