More research links varenicline with cardiovascular events

PRESCRIBERS have been advised to “watch this space” on the smoking cessation drug varenicline (Champix) as a heightened risk of cardiovascular (CV) events is added to growing concern about the drug.

A meta-analysis of 14 studies involving more than 8200 smokers found those taking the drug had a 72% increased risk of a serious CV event compared to those taking placebo.

All but one of the trials excluded people with pre-existing CV disease, and patients – mostly men aged under 45 years – were followed for up to a year.

The publication follows a move by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in mid-June to warn of a “small, increased risk of certain CV adverse events in patients who have CVD”, based on its review of a trial involving 700 smokers. This comes after the FDA added a black box warning to varenicline in 2009, noting a risk of suicidal ideation.

The study’s lead investigator, Professor