What is Champix® (varenicline)?
Champix® is the brand name for the non-nicotine stop smoking medication, varenicline tartrate, which can help with feelings of withdrawal such as cravings, irritability and difficulty concentrating. Champix comes in tablets. In clinical trials, Champix has been shown to increase quit rates.
How does Champix work?
When tobacco smoke is inhaled, nicotine travels through your lungs, into your bloodstream and to your brain. Here, it attaches to receptors in the brain and a chemical called dopamine is released, which provides a short-lasting feeling of pleasure. It is believed that Champix also attaches to these receptors, but blocks the nicotine from attaching to them. Champix provides a continual release of dopamine spread out across the day, but it’s not as intense as a cigarette, so smoking becomes less enjoyable. People taking Champix tablets usually get reduced cravings and feelings of withdrawal, such as difficulty concentrating, frustration, restlessness and anxiety.
How well does Champix work?
Champix helps many people to quit smoking, but may not work for everyone. Research has found that Champix can more than double the chance of successfully quitting if combined with support like Quitline counselling – 13 7848. Quitline counsellors can give you tips and strategies for dealing with triggers and cues to smoke, while the medication helps to manage feelings of nicotine withdrawal and cravings.
Do I need a prescription for Champix?
You will need a prescription from your doctor who will tell you if the medication is right for you. Initially, you will be prescribed a four-week pack of Champix. You will need to go back to your doctor after two to three weeks for a review before you can be prescribed the rest of your Champix tablets.
Who should use Champix?
It’s important for you to discuss your individual situation with your doctor to decide if Champix is right for you. Tell your doctor if you are on any medicines, have any medical conditions (including mental health conditions) or allergies, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Champix is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.
Where can I buy Champix?
Your prescription can be filled by your local pharmacist.
How much does Champix cost?
You can get Champix tablets at a cheaper price through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) if you have a Medicare card. There is a further discount available if you have a concession card. For prices, visit the PBS website at www.pbs.gov.au/pbs/home and type ‘Varenicline’ into the search bar.
How do I use Champix?
Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding when and how often to take your Champix tablets.
While you are taking Champix, try to work on your stress management and strategies for beating the habit.
Using Champix while also getting support from Quitline (13 7848) increases your chance of stopping smoking.
Talk to your doctor about how long to take Champix.
Can I try Champix again?
It’s best to speak to your doctor or pharmacist about which stop smoking medication will suit you best, when you’re ready to try quitting again.
Does Champix have side effects?
As with all medications, side effects can occur. Talk to your health professional about possible side effects. The most common is nausea, which affects around one in three people who use Champix. Other possible side effects may include changes of mood, sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, decreased heart rate, increased appetite or weight gain. More information about side effects is available on the NPS MedicineWise website.
Some people may have mood or behaviour changes when taking Champix. It’s important to let family members and close friends know that you are taking Champix. Ask them to look out for any unusual changes in your behaviour or mood. If you feel unwell or notice any changes in your mood or behaviour while taking Champix, tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.
If I don’t succeed in quitting smoking using Champix, can I try Zyban (Bupropion)?Ask your doctor if Zyban is suitable for you. If so, you will need to obtain a prescription from your doctor for Zyban.
Please note, this information is not intended to replace consumer medicines information or health professional advice. If you would like to provide feedback on this website content, please contact HealthDASSATobaccoControlUnit@sa.gov.au.