Champix (varenicline tartrate) is based on a plant extract, which is found in a variety of plants. It doesn’t
contain nicotine and isn’t addictive.
It’s designed to do two things:
1. Reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms that happen when you give up smoking.
2. Block the effect of nicotine – so if you do smoke while on Champix, you may get reduced feelings of
satisfaction and not enjoy it as much. This can help remind you why you are stopping and reduce the desire to have
another cigarette in the future.
How Does Champix Work?
Champix contains no nicotine. You may wonder how a non-nicotine pill could help you quit smoking. Well, first
you have to know how nicotine works.
There are receptors for nicotine in your brain. When you smoke, the nicotine you inhale attaches to these
receptors. This sends a message to a different part of your brain to release a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine
gives you a feeling of pleasure. But it does not last long. That’s why your body craves more nicotine. This can
become a vicious cycle.
How To Take Champix
A 12-Week Prescription:
Champix should be taken after eating and with a full glass (8 ounces) of water.
A 12-week Champix prescription includes 1 Starting Month Box and 2 Continuing Month Boxes.
Within each one-month Box are 4 Weekly doses of Champix.
The first week:
In the first week of Champix, white pills are taken.
During days 1-3, take 1 white pill every day.
During days 4-7, take 2 white pills every day: one in the morning and one in the evening.
The remaining weeks:
During weeks 2-12, take 2 blue pills every day: one in the morning and one in the evening.
Remember, you should always take Champix as prescribed by your doctor.
How Effective is Champix?
In studies, 44% of Champix users were quit during weeks 9 to 12 of treatment (compared to 18% on sugar pill).
Champix also helped reduce the urge to smoke.
Helping Smokers Quit
Champix has been proven to be more effective in helping smokers quit than Zyban® (bupropion hydrochloride).
The average person in these smoking cessation studies had been a smoker for more than 24 years. The trials involved
a mix of men and women who smoked an average of 10 or more cigarettes a day.
Champix is proven to work. Learn about the study.
1,022 patients were enrolled in this study, and results were duplicated in another identically designed
Patients received either Champix 1 mg twice a day, Zyban 150 mg twice a day, or sugar pills twice a day for
12 weeks. In addition to the pills, patients were given a booklet on quitting smoking and received brief
counselling at each visit.
In weeks 9 through 12 in the study, the smoking status of each patient was checked, and the information was
compared among the 3 groups. Patients were considered quit if they did not smoke a cigarette (not even a puff) or
use other nicotine products for the final 4 weeks of treatment. Champix was proven to be more effective than the
sugar pill or Zyban.
Smoking cessation with or without the support of a medicine such as Champix can be associated with side
Common side effects of Champix include feeling sick (nausea), difficulty sleeping, headache and changes in
dreams. Around 3 in 10 people feel sick while taking Champix and it often goes away after a few days. Some people
find it helpful to take Champix with food and water. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about these side
effects and how they can be managed.
Smokers who used Champix have reported changes in mood, behaviour or thinking, and sometimes these changes
have been serious. It is not known if those changes are related to the medicine or to stopping smoking. If you or
your family notice changes in your behaviour, mood or thinking, stop taking Champix and see your doctor.
There have been reports of heart attack and strokes in some people taking Champix. Heart attacks and strokes
can also be caused by smoking. If you have any of these conditions tell your doctor.
Zyban (Bupropion Hydrochloride)
Zyban is a tablet that helps you to stop smoking. It has more side effects and is less effective than Champix
and therefore is not generally prescribed.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Reduces craving from cigarettes but still contains nicotine. Not as effective as Champix.
Counselling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture are alternative treatments to help quit smoking.
Patient Information Leaflet
Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.
Patient information can be found here.