Champix and Chantix are different names for the same drug, containing the same active ingredient, varenicline.
Champix is the brand name given to the drug in Europe, whereas Chantix is the name given in the US.
Produced by Pfizer, the drug is a smoking cessation treatment. Varenicline, the active ingredient, reduces cravings by stimulating nicotine receptors in the brain, and also by blocking the effect of inhaled nicotine on these receptors too.
What’s the difference between the two?
The only difference is the name.
Pfizer, the manufacturer of the drug, markets it under two slightly different brand names in the US and Europe.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) both issued licenses for the drug in 2006.
Which works better?
Champix and Chantix are the same medicine and work in exactly the same way.
Varenicline is a nicotinic receptor partial agonist. This means that it works by mimicking the effect that nicotine has on receptors in the brain. The stimulation it causes reduces the strong cravings and withdrawal effects experienced when quitting smoking. It can also reduce the appeal of cigarettes by blocking the effect nicotine has on the brain. Therefore when someone who is using either Champix or Chantix has a cigarette, they are less likely to experience the same feeling they would before they started their treatment.
Why do they have different names?
The World Health Organisation plays a part in giving new active ingredients their name, also known as the generic name. Pharmaceutical companies then decide on their own branded name to stamp their mark on the medication. The name itself will go through a rigorous testing process to help minimise the likelihood of prescription errors.
If the manufacturer wishes to sell their drug on a global market they need to adhere to the rules set out by each regulatory body. This means that different names may be chosen due to their suitability in different parts of the world.
How are Champix and Chantix prescribed?
Your doctor will decide on the exact course you will follow. However, a usual course of Champix is initially 12 weeks.
- For the first three days one pill of 0.5mg is taken once a day. On day four the dose may be upped to one 0.5mg pill taken twice a day, for the rest of the week.
- On day eight the dose may increase again to 1mg pill taken twice a day for the rest of the 12 weeks.
- A stop smoking date will typically be set for the second week of the course.
- After the initial 12 weeks, another 12 weeks may be prescribed as a maintenance dose to help prevent relapses.
- Your doctor may review and alter your dosage depending on the presence of any side effects.
- In some cases, a lower continuous dose of 0.5mg may be issued, instead of the 1mg dose.
Should I use Champix?
If you’re thinking about quitting smoking then you should speak to your doctor or local stop smoking service. They will be able to advise you on the most suitable form of treatment to help you give up successfully.
Due to some post-marketing reports of changes in behaviour, such as mood swings and suicidal tendencies, varenicline may not be suitable for those with a history of mental health problems.
While Champix and Chantix are not suitable for everyone, there are alternatives. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is one option. This is offered in various forms, including patches and gum.
One other prescription-only medication for smoking cessation is Zyban. Like Champix, a doctor will need to ensure this is safe for you to take before use. Your medical history and any other medications will be factors in the treatment prescribed.
Read our stop smoking pages for more information on how to quit.