Chantix at a Glance: Facts about the controversial anti-smoking drug

Chantix, known generically as varenicline, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 as a medication to help people quit smoking, but may have led some users to commit suicide and had other psychological effects on other patients.

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, over seven million people in the U.S. had received a Chantix prescription.

• Name: In Europe and other countries, varenicline is known as “Champix,” a name the FDA rejected, 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.

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