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Pregnancy: Not suitable
Breastfeeding: Not suitable
Champix tablets contain the active ingredient varenicline. Champix binds to nicotine receptors in the brain meaning that cravings are reduced and smoking becomes less pleasurable due to the reward system being blocked. Champix has been shown to more than double your chances of quitting smoking for good.
Champix tablets are taken twice daily, normally as a 12-week course. A quit date, where you stop smoking cigarettes, should be set 8 – 14 days after starting the medication to allow the dose to build up using the starter pack before stopping smoking for good.
Please read the Patient Information Leaflet for side effects and additional information.
The Champix Starter Pack should be used to initiate smoking cessation treatment before increasing the dose to Champix 1mg tablets.
When using Champix you must decide on a ‘Quit date’ where you will give up cigarettes completely. This should normally be between Day 8 and Day 14 of treatment, however it can be up to five weeks after starting treatment if you feel you are not ready to give up at an earlier date.
The usual dose regimen for Champix is:
Day 1 - 3: From day 1 to 3, you should take one white Champix 0.5 mg tablet once a day.
Day 4 - 7: From day 4 to 7, you should take one white Champix 0.5 mg tablet twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, at about the same time each day.
Week 2 - Week 12
Day 8 until the end of treatment (end of Week 12): From day 8 (Quit date) to the end of treatment, you should take one light blue Champix 1 mg tablet twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, at about the same time each day.
If you do experience side effects from Champix they may include gastro-intestinal disturbances, appetite changes, dry mouth, taste disturbance, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, sleep disorders, abnormal dreams. Champix has a small risk of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and skin rash as with all medicines. Please read the Patient Information Leaflet enclosed with your medicines for a full list of side effects.
MHRA guidance states: ‘People who are taking Champix who develop suicidal thoughts, agitation, depressed mood, or display any changes in behaviour or thinking that are of concern for the doctor, patient, family, or caregiver should stop Champix and contact their doctor immediately.’
If you experience any adverse effects from taking your prescribed medicine it is important to let us or your doctor know immediately. In a medical emergency you should contact the emergency services or go straight to your local Accident & Emergency.
Full list of side effects with Champix tablets
Common side effects (up to 1 in 10 people):
Chest infection, inflammation of the sinuses
Increased weight, decreased appetite, increased appetite
Sleepiness, dizziness, changes in the way things taste
Shortness of breath, cough
Heartburn, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, feeling bloated, abdominal pain, toothache, indigestion, flatulence, dry mouth
Skin rash, itching
Joint ache, muscle ache, back pain
Chest pain, tiredness
Uncommon side effects (up to 1 in 100 people):
Fungal infection, viral infection
Feeling of panic, difficulty thinking, restlessness, mood swings, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, changes in sex drive
Seizure, tremor, feeling sluggish, less sensitive to touch
Conjunctivitis, eye pain
Ringing in the ears
Angina, rapid heart rate, palpitations, increased heart rate
Increased blood pressure, hot flush
Inflammation of nose, sinuses and throat, congestion of nose, throat and chest, hoarseness, hay fever, throat irritation, congested sinuses, excess mucous from nose causing cough, runny nose
Red blood in stools, irritated stomach, change of bowel habit, belching, mouth ulcers, pain in the gums
Reddening of the skin, acne, increased sweating, night sweats
Muscle spasms, chest wall pain
Abnormally frequent urination, urination at night
Increased menstrual flow
Chest discomfort, flu-like illness, fever, feeling weak or unwell.
Rare side effects (up to 1 in 1,000 people):
Feeling unwell or unhappy, slow thinking
Increased muscle tension, difficulty with speech, difficulty with coordination, reduced sense of taste, altered sleep pattern
Disturbed vision, eyeball discolouration, dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, shortsightedness, watery eyes
Irregular heart beat or heart rhythm disturbances
Throat pain, snoring
Blood in vomit, abnormal stools, coated tongue
Stiff joints, rib pain
Glucose in urine, increased urine volume and frequency
Vaginal discharge, changes in sexual ability
Please read the Patient Information Leaflet enclosed with Champix before you take the medicine.
Champix has been associated with depression and suicidal behaviour, especially in patients with existing depression. If you are taking Champix and experience a depressed mood, agitation or suicidal behaviour you should stop treatment immediately and see your doctor. Depression and agitation is commonly associated with quitting smoking whether you are taking Champix or not. If you experience any of these symptoms you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
You should not take Champix if you suffer from epilepsy, seizures, heart or blood vessel problems unless under the supervision of your doctor.
Champix does not guarantee success for those wishing to quit smoking, it still takes willpower to resist temptation and get out of old habits. However, studies have shown you can be up to twice as likely to quit when using Champix as those going ‘cold turkey’.
Champix is normally a 12-week course of treatment, after which you should be a non-smoker. In some cases it may be necessary to continue for another 12 weeks after a discussion with the doctor or to taper down the dose slowly over a week.
Stopping smoking can alter levels of different chemicals in your body, which can in turn alter how your medicines work. Eaxmples of medicines that will need to be closely monitored by your doctor whilst you quit smoking are theophylline (to treat breathing problems), warfarin (to reduce blood clotting), and insulin (to treat diabetes).
Champix should not be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Champix can cause side effects of drowsiness and dizziness. If affected you should not drive or operate machinery.
Each Champix tablet contains either varenicline 0.5mg or varenicline 1mg as the active ingredient depending on the strength.
Each tablet also contains the following inactive ingredients: Cellulose, Microcrystalline, Calcium Hydrogen Phosphate Anhydrous Croscarmellose Sodium, Silica, Colloidal Anhydrous, Magnesium Stearate.
The coating of Champix 0.5mg tablets contains: Hypromellose, Titanium dioxide (E171) Macrogols, Triacetin.
The coating of Champix 1mg tablets contains: Hypromellose, Titanium dioxide (E171), Macrogols, Indigo Carmine Aluminium Lake (E132), Triacetin.
Champix is a medicine containing varenicline and it is used to stop smoking and help with withdrawal cravings.
It is available as a starter pack which contains 0.5mg and 1mg tablets and as 1mg tablets (continuation pack).
Champix has been shown in clinical trials to increase the chances of smoking two to three fold versus going 'cold turkey'.
Champix helps to reduce cravings or withdrawals as you quit smoking.
Nicotine from smoking attaches itself to receptors in the brain. This releases dopamine and gives the euphoric feeling associated with smoking.
Champix attaches to the same receptors and releases dopamine too. This stops any 'cold turkey' feeling or withdrawal associated when you stop smoking. Nicotine in the system is blocked from attaching to the receptors when the Champix is in place which reduces the large increases in dopamine usually released after a cigarette, hence reducing the reward.
If you have not taken Champix before, you need to use the starter pack first. This will help you gradually increase the dose to the recommended daily amount of 1mg twice a day. The starter pack contains enough tablets for the first 4 weeks of treatment.
A usual course of treatment of Champix is 12 weeks. This can be extended for another 12 weeks if you have been successful in the first 12 weeks. Chapmix has been shown to help 44% of people quit smoking after a full 12 week course.
The starter pack tablets are laid out exactly how you need to take them:
Day 1 to 3 - Take one 0.5mg white Champix tablet.
Day 4 to 7 - Take one 0.5mg white Champix tablet twice a day (morning and night)
Day 8 onwards - Take one 1mg blue Champix tablet twice daily (morning and night)
Up to day 8 you can continue to smoke when you want to, however after day 8 you need to decide on a day to stop smoking. This can be up to 5 weeks after day 8 if need be.
At the end of treatment when you have successfully stopped smoking, to reduce the chance of starting again it may be necessary to reduce or taper down the treatment to ensure you stay cigarette free.
There are lots of different methods to help you stop smoking for good.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is available in different forms and these include gum, patches, nasal spray, sublingual tablets and sprays. It provides an alternative source of nicotine to help ease the withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking. The frequency of use and dose is gradually reduced over time until it is not needed at all. NRT provides a source of nicotine without the other harmful chemicals and tar that is found in cigarettes.
Often with NRT the nicotine takes longer to reach the brain compared with smoking and patients can find this difficult and discontinue treatment. The symptoms associated with withdrawal may be reduced with NRT but may not go away completely.
There is always a temptation to start smoking again with NRT, however with Champix the receptors in the brain are blocked. This makes you more likely to succeed as even if you have a cigarette, the nicotine will not have an effect.
Zyban (Bupropion) is another stop smoking treatment. It is an antidepressant that has also been shown to stop cravings and withdrawal associated when you stop smoking tobbacco. It doesn’t replace nicotine or block the receptors like NRT or Champix. Its mode of action is unknown but it is thought it affects chemicals in the brain. Bupropion has been shown to be less effective than Champix and is no longer recommended.
The normal course of treatment for Champix is 12 weeks. This can be extended by another 12 weeks if necessary. We would not recommend using it continuously for longer than 24 weeks.
The most common side effects of Champix include headache, nausea, difficulty in sleeping, abnormal dreams, and a sore throat or mouth. They affect approximately up to 10% of patients.
Rarely, Champix has been associated with reports of suicidal thoughts or behaviour. After thorough clinical reviews of Champix in use it has been adivsed that Champix can worsen psychiatric symptoms in people with depression. If you experience any worsening of depression or suicidal thought or behaviour, stop using Champix immediately and see your doctor.
Champix takes approximately one week to build up and it take at least five weeks to see the full benefits.
Take the missed Champix when you remember. If it is nearly time for the next dose, omit the missed tablet. Do not take two tablets together to make up for the missed one.
Champix does should not make you drowsy and should not affect your ability to drive or operate machinery. If you do feel drowsy after taking Champix you should not drive or operate machinery until it has passed.
Whilst it is important to stop smoking when you are pregnant or breast-feeding, it is not recommended to use Champix and you should consult your doctor to decide upon the most effective treatment plan for your condition.
Before you start Champix you need to decide a day to stop smoking. This is usually occurs at some point after eight days of taking the tablets. You can still smoke whilst taking the tablets until you decide you are ready to stop smoking. It is not unusual for the number of cigarettes you smoke to reduce daily as the tablet takes effect. You should not continue to smoke after five weeks of using Champix.
Some patients that have used Champix to stop smoking have reported that they have feel depressed. Whether this is from the tablets or from stopping smoking is still unclear. If you feel depressed then we recommend you speak to us or your doctor to reassess your treatment. If necessary the tablets can be reduced from 1mg twice a day to 0.5mg a day if you are experiencing unwanted effects. Always ensure you stop taking Champix immediately if you experience worsening depression or suicidal thoughts or behaviour.
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