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Jessica Smagacz
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FDA study links Anti-Smoking Drug to Suicidal Thoughts

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FDA released a new study that supported claims of a smoking-cessation drug used by service members and veterans may put them at risk for suicidal thoughts, reports the Navy Times.

According to the Defense Department, around 67,580 service members in 2007 had prescriptions for this medication.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study. They “linked varenicline with 19 deaths and 112 serious incidents involving injury, hospitalization or emergency intervention after people took the drug to help them stop smoking.” The article also said that serious adverse events and crashes among patients continue to be reported. This has raised concerns about any additional or any possible risks.

FDA has called this link between the drug and suicidal thoughts as “likely.”

“Varenicline has changed its label to include a warning about potential mood changes and to advice patients who experience such effects to quit taking the medication immediately.”

A safety notice about varenicline was issued in June by the then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. S. Ward Casscells. The notice encouraged service members to get help immediately if they have an adverse reaction to the drug. Additionally, the Defense Department issued a notice advising pilots and operators of heavy machinery to not take the medicine last May.

Another study, this time completed by a Navy physician, found that there were around two-thirds of more than 400 troops, including Marines and sailors in Hadithah, Iraq that used some kind of tobacco. Among these troops, about three-quarters desire to quit.