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Varenicline

Varenicline is sold under the brand name of Chantix. It is a prescription drug that helps people quit smoking or chewing tobacco. Varenicline does not contain nicotine and it is not addictive.

Varenicline works two ways. First, it helps take away nicotine withdrawal symptoms that occur when you no longer get nicotine from tobacco. Second, if you do use tobacco after starting varenicline, it prevents the nicotine from acting in your brain the way it did before. Both of these actions help you quit using tobacco.

Benefits of Varenicline

  • It is easy to use. It is a pill that you take once or twice a day.
  • It has no nicotine in it, which may be important to some people.

How to use it

  • Your health care provider or pharmacist will tell you how much to take and how to use it.
  • Varenicline may cause drowsiness in some people. Before driving see how you respond to varenicline.
  • Take varenicline daily for a full 12 weeks unless your health care provider tells you to stop sooner or take it longer.
  • Let your health care provider know how much you drink when you ask for your prescription.
  • It is important to swallow the varenicline tablet whole. Do not chew or crush tablets.

PLEASE NOTE, this information is not intended to replace the advice of your health care provider or pharmacist. Always follow the advice of your health care provider or pharmacist regarding proper use of this product and read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before you start taking this product.

Before using varenicline, let your health care provider know if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take varenicline.
  • Are under age 18. People under 18 should not take varenicline.
  • Have kidney disease. People with severe kidney disease may need to use special caution when taking varenicline.
  • Have depression or other mental-health problems like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, mania, suicidal thoughts or drug or alcohol dependence.

Cost

Varenicline costs no more per day than a pack of cigarettes! Remember to check with your employer or health plan to see if they pay for all or part of your varenicline prescription.

Side effects

See page 33 of the Quit Guide for common minor side effects. If you experience any side effects that worry you when taking varenicline, please contact your health care provider.

Important: The FDA has issued an alert that there may be an association between varenicline use and mood changes like agitation, depression, suicidal thoughts and thoughts about hurting others. Some people taking varenicline may also experience drowsiness that could affect their ability to drive and operate heavy machinery. If you have ever been diagnosed or treated for a mental health condition like depression or bipolar disease, you should tell your doctor before using varenicline. If you experience any side effects that concern you while using varenicline, please contact your health care provider right away.

Please note: This page includes detailed, current information about this medication. Some of the information on this page may not be included in the Quit Guide. The Quit Guide may include additional instructions regarding the use of this medication. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using this medication and consult your health care provider if you have any questions.