Following the initial disruption to supply of varenicline (Champix) in June 2021 because of the presence of nitrosamines above the acceptable level of daily intake, Pfizer announced a wholesale and pharmacy recall of Champix in October 2021.
A nitrosamine-compliant, unlicensed varenicline supply is now available in the UK and the documents below give details of this medication and how it can be obtained.
We asked Thistle Pharma (who is the supplier of this unlicensed varenicline) questions and their answers are reproduced below for services, individual stops smoking practitioners and other health professionals, and for patients.
28th October 2021
Today the Department of Health and Social Care issued an updated Supply Disruption Alert confirming that there is no resupply date of varenicline from Pfizer and no alternative supplier. We have updated our guidance document below.
14th October 2021.
Pfizer have announced a wholesale and pharmacy recall of Champix. We understand that supply of varenicline will not be reinstated in the short term and so stop smoking services, health care professionals and smokers should all plan to use an alternative stop smoking medication such as combination NRT or bupropion (Zyban). We have updated our guidance document below.
18th June 2021.
It is worth remembering that we simply donâ€™t have scientific evidence for the clinical situation facing clients having to switch from Champix mid-course to an alternative stop smoking medication, weâ€™re making a best judgement call. We will update the guidance as necessary and date the document link below whenever an edit has been made.
The second attachment contains the questions we've been asked about helping clients to switch from Champix, and our answers, since news of the supply problems were announced.
16th June 2021.
The NCSCT produced clinical guidance on helping clients to switch from Champix (e.g. to combination NRT) in response to supply issues with Champix announced by Pfizer.
Despite the evidence on safety and efficacy, getting some local medicines management and prescribers to accept varenicline as an equal first-line treatment option was in some cases difficult.
This briefing is intended as a resource for commissioners, managers and staff of stop smoking services and is set out as answers to a series of questions.
In light of trials reporting on the incidence of cardiovascular serious adverse events among those using varenicline and a call to evaluate the association of cardiovascular serious adverse events with the use of varenicline, two recent meta-analyses have reviewed existing evidence.
Whilst findings were not uniform, based on the findings of these reviews, the risk of cardiovascular events associated with the use of varenicline is judged to be minimal and clinically insignificant.
Note: The recent changes to the service product characteristics (SPC) for varenicline do not substantially change the points raised in this briefing nor the advice that it is safe and effective.