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10 Things You Should Know About Smoking Cessation Drugs

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The drugs may cause an increase in bizarre behavior.

While rare, smoking cessation drugs can cause potentially dangerous side effects. Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or hostile.
While rare, smoking cessation drugs can cause potentially dangerous side effects. Talk to your doctor if you feel depressed or hostile.
David Malan/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

A rare but significant side effect of Chantix and Zyban involves an increase of bizarre behavior, including depression, hostility and suicidal thoughts [sources: Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline]. In the drug world, this is called a black-box warning.

With Chantix, regulators have seen fewer than 100 episodes of suicide in 9 million users, but it's still enough to issue the warning.

With this side effect, as with others, it's hard to tell whether it's the drug that actually leads to this behavior. "It's unclear whether it's the drug causing it, if the quitting smoking causes it, or if these people are prone to committing suicide in the first place," Dr. Schroeder says.

Some depression and bizarre behavior are not uncommon with people who are trying to quit, regardless of the method they choose. "When the nicotine patch first came on the market, there were similar rumors," Dr. Schroeder says.

To learn more about smoking and how to quit, check out the links below.

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Sources

  • American Cancer Society. "Guide to Quitting Smoking." (May 9, 2011)http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index
  • Claremont Graduate University. "Community and Global Health study reveals challenges for light smokers who want to quit." March 7, 2011. (May 10, 2011)http://www.cgu.edu/pages/4546.asp?item=4902
  • Doctor's Guide. "Smoking Cessation Aid, Zyban (Bupropion), May Help Avoid Weight Gain." Aug. 8, 2000. (May 10, 2011)http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/1dc5f2.htm
  • GlaxoSmithKline. "NicoDerm CQ." (May 9, 2011)http://www.nicodermcq.com
  • GlaxoSmithKline. "Nicorette." (May 9, 2011)http://www.nicorette.com
  • GlaxoSmithKline. "Zyban Prescribing Information." September 2010. (May 7, 2011)http://us.gsk.com/products/assets/us_zyban.pdf
  • Pfizer Inc. "Chantix." (May 7, 2011)http://www.chantix.com/index.aspx
  • Schroeder, Steven A. Distinguished Professor of Health and Health Care, University of California at San Francisco. Personal interview. May 6, 2011.

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