WASHINGTON (CN) – The FAA on Wednesday prohibited pilots and air traffic controllers from using the anti-smoking drug Chantix, citing a study that found that the drug has contributed to auto accidents and other problems that could endanger users and others. Chantix is made by Pfizer.
The study, released Wednesday by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, linked Chantix to seizures, loss of consciousness and other problems, including suicidal behavior, vision problems, heart rhythm disturbances and rapid mood swings. The institute said its study was based on analysis of “adverse events” reported to the FDA.
“We have immediate safety concerns about the use of (Chantix) among persons operating aircraft, trains, buses and other vehicles, or in other settings where a lapse in alertness or motor control could lead to massive, serious injury,” the study reported.
The FAA approved the drug last summer. Pfizer defended the drug in a press statement, saying that a risk-benefit analysis supports use of Chantix, due to the great dangers of smoking.
Chantix acts on the same brain areas affected by nicotine. Since the FDA approved it in May 2006, more than 3.5 million people have used it, according to press reports. A month’s supply costs $130 and treatment can last for 3 to 6 months – $1.4 billion in purchases, assuming 3 months treatment per user.