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Depression alert for smoking drug

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Regulators are to ‘closely monitor’ the use of new smoking cessation drug varenicline (Champix) in patients with a history of psychiatric illness.

Regulators are to ‘closely monitor’ the use of new smoking cessation drug varenicline (Champix) in patients with a history of psychiatric illness.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said that of 839 well-recognised adverse reactions, there were as many as 46 reports of depression – mostly in those with a previous psychiatric history, and a further 16 of suicidal thoughts.

Varenicline, which mimics the effects of nicotine to reduce cravings, has been used by 15,000 to 20,000 people since its UK launch in December 2006.

The MHRA said healthcare professionals should pay particular attention to patients with psychiatric conditions who are taking the drug and advise them accordingly.

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