Pfizer recalling popular stop-smoking drug Chantix over impurities

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Chantix (Credit: FDA)

(NEXSTAR) — Pfizer is voluntarily recalling the anti-smoking drug Chantix, a brand of varenicline, due to impurities that exceed approved levels, the Food and Drug Administration has announced.

The recall includes two lots of Chantix 0.5 mg tablets, two lots of Chantix 1 mg tablets, and eight lots of a Chantix kit of 0.5mg/1 mg tablets that may have too much nitrosamine, N-nitroso-varenicline, based on the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level established by Pfizer.

“N-Nitroso-varenicline belongs to the nitrosamine class of compounds, some of which are classified as probable or possible human carcinogens (substances that could cause cancer), based on laboratory tests such as rodent carcinogenicity studies,” the FDA has said.

The FDA says there is no immediate risk to patients taking this medication, though long-term use “may be associated with a theoretical potential increased cancer risk in humans.” However, the FDA says the health benefits of quitting smoking outweigh the cancer risk from the impurity in varenicline.

Chantix helps smokers quit and is intended for short-term use. According to the FDA, cigarette smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than non-smokers.

The FDA said everyone is exposed to some level of nitrosamines, which are common in water and foods, including cured and grilled meats, dairy products and vegetables.

“These impurities may increase the risk of cancer if people are exposed to them above acceptable levels over long periods of time,” the FDA said.

People taking Chantix should check with their doctor about whether they received an affected lot, and if appropriate, about alternative treatments. Pfizer has received no reports of “adverse events” related to this recall.

The FDA provided the following table that includes the national drug code (NDC), lot number, expiration date, and configuration details for Chantix tablets. The product lots were distributed across the U.S. and Puerto Rico from June 2019 to June 2021. 

Product NDC Lot ExpDate Presentation Config/Count
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5 mg
0069-0468-56 00019213 2022 JAN Bottles 56 tablets/bottle
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5 mg
0069-0468-56 EC6994 2023 MAY Bottles 56 tablets/bottle
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 1 mg
0069-0469-56 EA6080 2023 MAR Bottles 56 tablets/bottle
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 1 mg
0069-0469-56 EC9843 2023 MAR Bottles 56 tablets/bottle
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 00020231 2021 SEP Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 00020232 2021 NOV Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 00020357 2021 DEC Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 00020358 2022 JAN Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 00020716 2022 JAN Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 ET1600 01/2023 Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 ET1607 01/2023 Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets
Chantix
(varenicline)
Tablets, 0.5/1 mg
0069-0471-03 ET1609 01/2023 Cartons containing 2 blister packs Carton containing one blister pack of 11 0.5 mg tablets and one blister pack containing 42 1 mg tablets

For more information, go to the FDA website.

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