No. Champix is a prescription-only medication. This means that you cannot buy it unless you have a prescription for it issued by a registered prescriber.
Why do I need a prescription to buy Champix?
Champix is not available to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) because a doctor will need to assess the suitability of the medication for you before you take it.
For instance, Champix may interact with certain medications, such as cimetidine which is used in kidney disease. In this case, cimetidine can increase the concentration of Champix in the blood; so taking the two together should be avoided.
In addition to this, when someone gives up smoking, they may need to have certain medications adjusted. For instance, if a patient is taking warfarin, theophylline or insulin, a doctor might need to advise them on adjusting their dose once they quit.
Champix may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions, or be more likely to cause side effects in some people. This includes people who have a history of seizures, cardiovascular problems, or depression. A doctor will need to screen a patient’s medical profile to evaluate the risk of Champix exacerbating any existing medical conditions they may have.
A doctor will also need to provide advice and support to someone taking Champix, and offer supplementary information on how to successfully give up. If it is taken outside of this framework of support, it may not be as effective.
What smoking cessation products can I get OTC?
There are other products available that can help someone to give up smoking, and do not require a prescription. These include:
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
In smoking, nicotine is the chemical substance responsible for addiction. However, it does not have the same harmful properties as the tar or carbon monoxide found in cigarettes.
Various NRTs have been developed to release lower doses of the chemical into the body to alleviate cravings.
NRTs are available as:
- chewing gum
- nasal spray
- and microtabs.
A course of NRT tends to last for between 8-12 weeks. Your pharmacist, doctor or local stop smoking team may be able to help you select the most suitable administration method for you.
Electronic cigarettes are not strictly referred to as a ‘treatment’, but some studies have suggested that they can help smokers to abstain from tobacco use. They work by giving users a controlled dose of nicotine administered through an inhaled vapour. Much like the more conventional NRTs, this allows the user to receive nicotine whilst avoiding the potentially harmful substances.
E-cigarettes are readily available without a prescription. They have only become widely used in recent years, and their use is still a subject of intense debate among experts. Public Health England has reported that they are 95% less harmful than tobacco and can be used to help smokers quit.
Going cold turkey
Quitting smoking without the help of cessation treatments or aids is known as ‘cold turkey’. This method is based on willpower alone, doesn’t involve the use of any prescription or over-the-counter treatments.
Successful cold turkey quit attempts may be built around:
- avoiding situations where you would normally smoke;
- changing your routine;
- getting support from a family member or friend;
- saving the money you would usually spend on cigarettes for a treat once you have successfully stopped.
Many people who quit cold turkey do manage to successfully stop smoking.
But quitting without help can be tough, and isn’t for everyone.
NHS Choices states that you are four times more likely to successfully quit smoking if you receive some form of help. For instance, Champix has been found to more than double your chances of quitting.
Speak to your GP or local stop smoking services for more information on the help available.