What is Champix?
Champix tablets are a prescription medication that uses the active ingredient varenicline tartrate to suppress nicotine cravings and reduce the feelings of pleasure that you get from smoking. Champix targets the receptors in your brain that respond to nicotine and inhibits their actions. People who use Champix are less dependent on their own willpower to give up smoking. If you’ve previously tried to give up smoking and failed, or you doubt your own determination to quit, a 12 week course of Champix may help. According to the NHS, using NRT or prescription stop smoking medicines like Champix can almost double your chances of giving up smoking.
Champix should not be confused with various NRT products that deliver a dose of nicotine to your body in place of the nicotine in cigarettes. Champix does not contain nicotine and is designed to help break your addiction to nicotine rather that ‘weaning you off it’.
What is the active ingredient of Champix?
The active ingredient of Champix is varenicline tartrate. Taken orally in tablet form, it influences key receptors in your brain, suppressing nicotine cravings and reducing the feelings of pleasure that come with smoking. It is not an alternative source of nicotine or a nicotine substitute. Varenicline has been available as a stop smoking medicine since 2006.
How does Champix work?
When you smoke a cigarette, receptors in your brain respond to the nicotine hit and create feelings of pleasure. When you don’t smoke, your brain creates sensations of cravings for nicotine. Champix is a nicotinic receptor partial agonist, which simply means that it influences the receptors and reduces both the pleasurable sensations and the cravings. If you take a 12 week course of Champix, you may find it easier to give up smoking completely. Champix can be particularly helpful for people who have previously tried and failed to give up smoking. For the best results, you should take Champix as part of a wider stop smoking plan.
Who can take Champix?
If you’re over 18 and have no prior health issues, our online GPs may be able to help you give up smoking by prescribing a course of Champix. Heavy smokers, long-term smokers, and people who’ve previously failed to give up smoking may find a twelve week course of Champix helpful.
If you are allergic to Varenicline Tartrate you cannot take Champix. If you have any history of epilepsy or seizures (fits) you should mention it when you complete the short online medical questionnaire. You may still be able to take Champix to help you stop smoking, but our online GP will only issue a prescription if the medication is completely safe for you to use.
What doses of Champix are available?
Champix is designed to provide a course of treatment and different dosages of tablets are taken at various stages of the course. You begin a course of Champix up to two weeks before you actually stop smoking. This allows the active ingredient Varenicline Tartrate to build up in your body, ready for the first nicotine cravings.
|Week One (before giving up smoking)|
|Days 1-3||Take one white CHAMPIX 0.5 mg Champix tablet once a day.|
|Days 4-7||Take one white CHAMPIX 0.5 mg Champix tablet in the morning and another in the evening.|
|Week Two (when you give up smoking)|
|Days 8-14||Take one light blue 1mg Champix tablet in the morning and another in the evening.|
|Week Three and Onward|
|Days 15 onwards||From day 15 until the end of the course (a 12 week course is recommended for best results) take one light blue 1mg Champix tablet in the morning and another in the evening.|
How do I take Champix?
If you are prescribed a course of Champix our online GP will give you precise individual instructions about how to use the medication safely. Generally, during the first three days of treatment you take 1 white 0.5mg tablet daily. Tablets are swallowed with a glass of water. During days 4-7 of your course you take 2 white 0.5mg tablets daily, one in the morning and one in the evening. This phase of the course allows enough Champix to enter your system ready for when you actually smoke your last cigarette. It may also begin to reduce the pleasurable sensations that each cigarette creates.
For the rest of your course of Champix, take one 1mg blue tablet twice daily, one in the morning and one in the evening. This is your daily maintenance dosage that helps to reduce nicotine cravings and makes it easier not to start smoking again.
Can I take Champix and drink alcohol?
Our online GPs generally do not recommend drinking alcohol while you are taking any prescription medicine. If you drink alcohol while using Champix you may risk exacerbating any side effects of the medication. Drinking alcohol lowers your inhibitions and affects your sense of judgement. Drinking to excess may reduce your chances of successfully giving up smoking.
What are the side effects of Champix?
Your Champix tablets will come with a patient leaflet giving detailed information about the medication, its ingredients, possible side effects, and contraindications. Please read this leaflet carefully before you take any tablets. Keep the leaflet with the medication for future reference.
If you take Champix exactly as directed by our online GP, you are unlikely to experience any significant unwelcome side effects. A small minority of patients may experience some minor side effects.
Giving up smoking with or without treatment can cause various symptoms. These could include changes of mood (like feeling depressed, irritable, frustrated or anxious), sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, decreased heart rate and increased appetite or weight gain.
You should be aware of the possible emergence of serious neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as agitation, depressed mood, or changes in behaviour during a quit attempt with or without CHAMPIX and you should contact a doctor or pharmacist if you experience such symptoms.
Serious side effects of either an uncommon or rare frequency have occurred in people attempting to quit smoking with CHAMPIX: seizure, stroke, heart attack, suicidal thoughts, loss of contact witheality and unable to think or judge clearly (psychosis), changes in thinking or behaviour (such as aggression and abnormal behaviour). There have also been reports of severe skin reactions including Erythema Multiforme (a type of rash) and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (a serious illness with blistering of the skin, mouth, around the eyes or genitals) and serious allergic reactions including angioedema (swelling of the face, mouth, or throat).
Very common: may affect more than 1 in 10 people
- Inflammation of the nose and throat, abnormal dreams, difficulty sleeping, headache,
Common: may affect up to 1 in 10 people
- Chest infection, inflammation of the sinuses
- Increased weight, decreased appetite, increased appetite
- Sleepiness, dizziness, changes in the way things taste
- Shortness of breath, cough
- Heartburn, vomiting, constipation, diarrhoea, feeling bloated, abdominal pain, toothache, indigestion, flatulence, dry mouth
- Skin rash, itching
- Joint ache, muscle ache, back pain
- Chest pain, tiredness
Uncommon: may affect up to 1 in 100 people
- Fungal infection, viral infection
- Feeling of panic, difficulty thinking, restlessness, mood swings, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, changes in sex drive
- Seizure, tremor, feeling sluggish, less sensitive to touch
- Conjunctivitis, eye pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Angina, rapid heart rate, palpitations, increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure, hot flush
- Inflammation of nose, sinuses and throat, congestion of nose, throat and chest, hoarseness, hay fever, throat irritation, congested sinuses, excess mucous from nose causing cough, runny nose
- Red blood in stools, irritated stomach, change of bowel habit, belching, mouth ulcers, pain in the gums
- Reddening of the skin, acne, increased sweating, night sweats
- Muscle spasms, chest wall pain
- Abnormally frequent urination, urination at night
- Increased menstrual flow
- Chest discomfort, flu like illness, fever, feeling weak or unwell
- High blood sugar
- Heart attack
- Suicidal thoughts
- Changes in thinking or behaviour (such as aggression)
Rare: may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people
- Excessive thirst
- Feeling unwell or unhappy, slow thinking
- Increased muscle tension, difficulty with speech, difficulty with coordination, reduced sense of taste, altered sleep pattern
- Disturbed vision, eyeball discolouration, dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, shortsightedness, watery eyes
- Irregular heart beat or heart rhythm disturbances
- Throat pain, snoring
- Blood in vomit, abnormal stools, coated tongue
- Stiff joints, rib pain
- Glucose in urine, increased urine volume and frequency
- Vaginal discharge, changes in sexual ability
- Feeling cold, cyst
- Sleep walking
- Loss of contact with reality and unable to think or judge clearly (psychosis)
- Abnormal behaviour
- Severe skin reactions including Erythema Multiforme (a type of rash) and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (a serious illness with blistering of the skin, mouth, around the eyes or genitals)
- Serious allergic reactions including angioedema (swelling of the face, mouth, or throat)
If you experience serious discomfort we recommend that you go straight to your nearest casualty department. In an emergency dial 999.
When should I not take Champix?
You cannot take Champix if you are allergic to the active ingredient varenicline or if you are pregnant. If you plan to become pregnant, you should tell your online GP and delay pregnancy until after you have completed your course of Champix (and ideally given up smoking).
If you suffer from any of the following medical conditions, or are taking any of the following medications, you should mention them when you complete the short online health questionnaire. You may still be able to take Champix, but your online GP will only prescribe the medication if it is safe for you to use.
- You are currently breastfeeding
- Any history of psychiatric disorders
- Kidney problems
- Fits or convulsions (epilepsy)
- Heart and blood vessel problems such as heart attack, chest pain or stroke.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), which includes patches, gum, lozenges, sublingual tablets and inhalers (such as Nicorette, Nicabate, QuitX)
- Bupropion (e.g. Zyban)
The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine. It is possible that the leaflet in your medicine pack may differ from the PDF-version from this website because it may have been updated since your medicine was packaged or the medicine is from another brand.