Varenicline is used to help you stop smoking. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Varenicline is also called Champix.
|Notification January 2022
Varenicline is not currently available in Aotearoa New Zealand due to a supply problem. It is not known when it will be available again. Talk to your doctor about other options for stopping smoking.
What is varenicline?
Varenicline is a medicine used to help you stop smoking. It is usually used when nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other medicines have have not been effective.
Varenicline works by blocking the effects of nicotine in the brain. Varenicline can help to reduce craving and withdrawal symptoms that happen while you give up smoking. Varenicline does contain nicotine and it is not addictive. Read more about how to stop smoking.
What are the benefits of varenicline?
Taking varenicline increases your chances of quitting smoking. It approximately doubles to triples the chances of giving up smoking long-term. It doesn't contain nicotine, which is important to some people.
In Aotearoa New Zealand varenicline is available as 0.5 mg and 1 mg tablets.
- You will be started off on a low dose which will be increased slowly. This decreases the chance of you developing side effects such as nausea, and unusual dreams.
- Varenicline is usually started 1–2 weeks before your target quit date (the target quit date is the day you want to stop smoking).
- The total course is usually 12 weeks.
- Take 0.5 mg once a day for 3 days.
- Then increase to 0.5 mg twice a day for 4 days.
- It is okay to smoke during this time.
- Stop smoking on the quit date then take 1 mg twice a day for the rest of the 12 weeks.
- If you cannot tolerate this dose, your doctor may advise you to lower this to 0.5 mg twice a day.
How to take varenicline
- If you are taking the tablets once a day, take your tablet either in the morning or the evening.
- If you are taking your tablets twice a day, take 1 tablet in the morning and 1 tablet in the evening.
- Taking: Swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water. You can take them with or without food.
- Avoid alcohol: Limit drinking alcohol while you are taking varenicline. Drinking alcohol while taking varenicline may increase the risk for mood changes.
- Missed dose: If you forget to take your tablet, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next tablet, just take the next tablet at the right time. Do not take double the number of tablets.
Things to consider while you are taking varenicline
Interactions: Varenicline can interact with some herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting varenicline and before starting any new products.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, varenicline can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine.
|Side effects||What should I do?|
|For more information on side effects, see the Medsafe consumer information leaflets Varenicline Pfizer.
Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM)? Report a side effect to a product
Useful resources for healthcare professionals
- Varenicline tablets (all brands) are out of stock PHARMAC supply information, January 2022