A long list of risks just got even longer: The feds now say the anti-smoking drug Chantix can boost the odds of a heart attack.
They claim the risk is small... but hey, they think you should know about it anyway.
Isn't that nice of them?
The FDA says a recent study of 700 smokers who already had cardiovascular disease found that patients who took the drug were a little more likely to suffer chest pain, non-fatal heart attacks, and other heart problems than those who were given a placebo.
The agency says it'll update the warning labels and has ordered the drug's maker, Pfizer, to carry out a new analysis of previous trials to see if there's any other evidence of heart risk attached to the med.
That's a little like asking a student to grade his own homework, isn't it?
In this case, however, the "homework" is responsible for $800 million in annual sales -- so you can bet the student will give himself an "A+++" if he can.
The truth is, we don't need a new analysis, a new study, or even a new warning to know that this med is bad news.
Just look at all the risks -- including the possibility of suicide, even in patients who were not depressed before they started taking the drug. One recent study found that Chantix-related suicides could be twice as common as previously reported. (Read about it here.)
The drug has also been linked to hostility, aggression and violence -- so much so that one analysis earlier this year found that Chantix users are 18 times more likely to be involved in violence than those who take any other drug. (Click here to read more.)
Other side effects include hallucinations, paranoia, confusion and weird dreams -- and some of them can actually kick in even after you stop taking the drug.
Of course, the feds say patients need to weigh the risks against the benefits -- and they think the risks of this drug are nothing compared to the benefits of kicking your tobacco habit.
But that argument is a little ridiculous when you consider that up to 80 percent of all patients who try Chantix are back to smoking within a year.
In other words, there's not a lot of benefit here... only more risk, hidden in a big cloud of FDA-approved smoke.