NICE clears Champix, MHRA says will monitor use

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London, Feb 28 (UNI) A UK government health watchdog has cleared an anti-smoking drug which is linked to suicides.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended Champix being maunfactured by Pfizer for those who want to quit smoking with a rider that it may have contraindications for those under 18, or pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Tests on the drug indicated that it can double the chances of a smoker quitting.

''This is a relatively new drug and we don't have the advantage of evidence as to its effects,'' the Independent quoted Sir Alexander Macara, the chairman of the National Heart Forum, who chaired the NICE committee, as saying.

''We are being properly cautious about recommending it to people who might be vulnerable to the drug,'' he said.

The drug, which costs 163.80 pounds for a full 12-week course, was linked to 37 suicides in the US and two in Britain.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), responsible for licensing and monitoring drugs in the UK, said it will closely monitor the use of Champix.

Champix provides relief from cravings and withdrawal symptoms by stimulating the same brain cell receptors as nicotine, making smoking feel less satisfying.

UNI XC YA RK1225

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