Chantix Safe for Schizophrenics

Smoking cessation drug Chantix does not appear to worsen symptoms of schizophrenia

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A lot of people with schizophrenia smoke cigarettes. Clinically stable schizophrenics who took Chantix didn’t show an increase in symptoms, but they were more likely to quit smoking.

A recent study gives new hope to smokers with schizophrenia. Researchers find no conflicts between Chantix and schizophrenic symptoms.

"It's never too late to quit smoking, ask your doctor for help."

Dr. Jill M. Williams, MD, and a group of colleagues from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, ran a study on the effects of smoking cessation prescription drug varenicline on patients with schizophrenia.

When prescribing medications, doctors have to be careful to not prescribe anything that will conflict with another medication or medical condition.

There are prescription medications can worsen mental health disorders.

This study is important because a lot of people with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder smoke cigarettes and have a harder time quitting than the general population.

There is concern that smoking cessation aids can cause further problems with schizophrenic symptoms.

According to Dr. Williams: “Individuals with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder have a greater severity of nicotine dependence and therefore require a more potent treatment plan than the general population. It is important, however, that treatments for smoking cessation do not cause unnecessary psychosocial concerns or negative reactions with other medications used in the treatment of schizophrenia.”

The study design took 127 schizophrenic, but clinically stable, smokers into a randomized, double-blind trial for 12-weeks and then monitored for a further 12 weeks. Each smoker smoked 15 or more cigarettes per day and was randomly selected to take either varenicline or a placebo. The administrators of the pills did not know which one, the drug or the placebo, they were giving out.

Nineteen percent quit smoking with varenicline compared to 4.7 percent with the placebo, after 12 weeks. After 24 weeks, 11.9 percent of patients treated with varenicline were no longer smoking, while 2.3 percent of placebo takers were smoke free.

There were no significant changes in schizophrenic patients due to the drug varenicline, brand name Chantix.

Dr. Williams concludes, “Our study shows that varenicline may be an effective and safe smoking cessation treatment for patients with clinically stable schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder.”

This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, May 2012. The study was funded by Pfizer Inc., makers of Chantix.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 31, 2012
Last Updated:
August 21, 2012