UK advice on smoking cessation recommends Pfizer's Champix

The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on Wednesday issued advice on smoking cessation, including a recommendation that Pfizer's Champix be considered as a treatment option alongside behavioural counselling and group therapy.

The recommendations specified that Champix should not be prescribed to those under 18 or to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Alexander Macara, chair of the NICE committee that made the recommendations, said that Champix is a "relatively new drug and we don't have the advantage of evidence as to its effects." He added that "we are being properly cautious about recommending [Champix] to people who might be vulnerable to the drug."

Champix's label was recently updated in the US and EU to highlight that suicidal ideation and behaviours have been reported in patients taking the drug. Committee member Christine Owens, who noted that the panel was aware of the potential link between Champix and suicide, said that the drug "should not be given to anyone where there are any concerns or people who have suicidal thoughts."

A Pfizer spokesperson said the company welcomed the recommendations, and commented that no causal link has been established between the drug and symptoms of depression.

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