Champix tablets contain the active ingredient varenicline, which is a medicine used to help people who are addicted to nicotine to give up smoking. It acts in the brain, but is not the same as nicotine replacement therapy.
Varenicline is a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor partial agonist and it acts on the same receptors in the brain as nicotine. It works by stimulating the nicotinic receptors in the brain. This produces an effect that relieves the craving and withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping smoking.
At the same time, varenicline blocks nicotine from acting on the nicotinic receptors thus preventing any nicotine inhaled in tobacco smoke from having a rewarding and enjoyable effect.
The starter pack of Champix contains both 0.5mg tablets and 1 mg tablets so that the dose can be increased gradually. There are enough tablets in the starter pack for 2 weeks of treatment.
The usual regimen is:
Day 1 to 3 – take one 0.5mg white tablet once a day
Days 4 to 7 – take one 0.5mg white tablet twice a day (morning and evening)
Days 8 to 14 – take one 1mg blue tablet twice a day (morning and evening)
You should start taking Champix whilst you are still smoking. The most successful way to help you quit is to decide on a start day for taking Champix and then identify a day in the second week of treatment (sometime between days 8 and 14) when you are going to stop smoking.
After the initial two weeks, you should continue to take a 1mg tablet twice a day for a further 10 weeks (140 tablets). You can buy the full course of Champix 1mg in one go, or you can buy 28 tablets at a time.
At the end of 12 weeks there is a good chance that you will have managed to quit. When you order this product, our pharmacist will give you a phone call to check that you have support when giving up smoking. We will offer a follow up phone call during your course of Champix to see how you are getting on.
Giving up smoking with or without treatment can cause various symptoms. These include changes in mood (such as feeling depressed, irritable, frustrated or anxious), difficulty sleeping or concentrating, decreased heart rate and increased appetite or weight gain.
Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with using this medicine to help give up smoking. It is not known if these side effects are a result of using the medicine, or a result of giving up smoking. Just because a side effect is stated here does not mean that all people using Champix will experience that or any side effect.
Very common (affect more than 1 in 10 people):
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).
- Abnormal dreams.
Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people):
- Sleepiness or fatigue.
- Change in taste.
- Dry mouth.
- Disturbances of the gut such as constipation, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort or bloating, indigestion, wind (flatulence).
- Increased appetite.
Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 people):
- Decreased appetite.
- Feeling thirsty.
- Inflammation of the nose and throat (nasopharyngitis), sinuses (sinusitis), or lungs (bronchitis).
- Shortness of breath, cough or hoarseness.
- Throat irritation.
- Runny nose.
- Mood swings, depression, anxiety, abnormal thinking (see warning section above).
- Restlessness or agitation.
- Changes in sex drive.
- Abnormal co-ordination.
- Problems with speech.
- Reduced sense of touch or taste.
- Sensation of ringing or other noise in the ears (tinnitus).
- Visual disturbances.
- Abnormal intolerance of the eyes to light.
- Watery eyes.
- Discoloration of the whites of the eyes.
- Skin reactions such as rash, itching, acne or sweating.
- Increased urination.
- Vomiting blood or blood in the stools.
- Inflammation of the stomach (gastritis).
- Chest pain, awareness of your heartbeat (palpitations) or abnormal heartbeats.
- Increased blood pressure or heart rate.
- Increased weight.
- Joint stiffness, muscle spasms.
- Feeling cold.
The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.
For more information about any other possible risks associated with Champix, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Champix might make you feel dizzy or sleepy and so could impair your ability to perform potentially hazardous tasks such as driving or operating machinery. You should avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how this medicine affects you and are sure that it won’t affect your ability to perform such activities safely.
There have been reports of suicidal thoughts or behaviour in people taking Champix to help them give up smoking. It is very difficult to know if this is due to the medicine, as giving up smoking itself can make people depressed, especially if they already have a mental health problem, and depression is associated with suicidal thoughts. However, not all people experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts while taking this medicine had a previous history of psychiatric illness, or had stopped smoking. For this reason, if you begin to feel agitated or depressed, experience any changes in your behaviour or have thoughts about suicide or harming yourself during treatment with this medicine, you should stop taking it and consult your doctor immediately.
Some people may find that when they stop taking this medicine their urge to smoke returns. They may also feel irritable, depressed or have difficulty sleeping. To avoid this, your doctor may consider reducing your dose slowly when you finish treatment with this medicine, rather than stopping it abruptly. Discuss this with your doctor.
Champix should be used with caution in:
- People with decreased kidney function.
- People with disease involving the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease).
- People with a history of psychiatric illness, e.g. depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder.
- Epilepsy (this medicine has not been studied in people with epilepsy).
Champix should NOT be used in:
- This medicine is not recommended for children and adolescents under 18 years of age, as there is no information regarding its safety and efficacy in this age group.
This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to one or any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.
If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using Champix and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
The patient information leaflet (PIL) is a leaflet containing specific information about medical conditions, doses and side effects. You can download a copy of the PIL here:
Patient Info Leaflet