The Wall Street Journal reported in its Health Blog on May 21 that the Federal Aviation Administration has banned the stop-smoking drug Chantix for pilots and air traffic controllers.
According to the report, Pfizer’s smoking-cessation drug Chantix came in for a bit more trouble as a research group cited reports of physical side effects associated with the drug. The FAA, which reviewed the report, barred pilots and air traffic controllers from taking the drug, the WSJ reports.
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices examined adverse-event reports turned into the FDA in the fourth quarter of last year, and found 988 serious health problems reported in association with Chantix use, including seizures and heart trouble.
Pfizer told the WSJ the Institute’s findings are consistent with the drug’s label, which lists many of the events cited in the Institute’s report as “infrequent” or “rare,” and aren’t unusual given that more than five million Americans have taken the medicine.
Up to this point, Chantix has been under scrutiny primarily for potential psychiatric trouble, with reports of agitation and suicidal thinking in some patients. But the drug has remained popular, with sales of $277 million in the first quarter of this year, making it a bright spot for the company.
But Chantix sales growth has slowed lately due to the psychiatric concerns, and the Institute’s report prompted Sanford Bernstein analyst Timothy Anderson to cut his 2012 forecast for the drug’s sales to $700 million from $1.6 billion.