Varenicline (Champix): Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve heard there can be serious side effects of using Varenicline (Champix®), such as becoming depressed and mentally unwell. Is this true?

All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes these side effects are serious and some may even require medical attention, but most of the time they aren’t a cause for concern.

While Varenicline (Champix®) can help many people quit smoking, it may have unwanted side effects in a few people, some of which can be serious. If you feel unwell while taking Varenicline (Champix®), tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.

Click here to read more information about the side effects of Varenicline (Champix®), on the NPS MedicineWise website


How long does a course of Varenicline (Champix®) last?

A standard course of Varenicline (Champix®) lasts for 12 weeks.


Do I only need one script for Varenicline (Champix®)?

No, the first script provides you with four weeks’ worth of medication. You’ll need to return to your GP for a review after 2-3 weeks of starting Varenicline (Champix®), before being prescribed the remainder of the course.


I’ve heard that I have to enrol or join a support program to get Varenicline (Champix®) – is this true? What happens if I don’t want to?

Yes, this is correct. A condition of being prescribed this medication is that you receive professional quit smoking support at the same time, such as the NSW Quitline. The evidence suggests that if you undertake both of these, you will have a better chance of quitting. Your GP can provide further guidance on support programs.


If I don’t succeed with this course of Varenicline (Champix®), can I go back and get another course?

One 12-week course of Varenicline (Champix®) is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme within a single 12-month period. If you are still not smoking at the end of the first course, you now have the option of extending this treatment for a further 12 weeks.

If you have been unsuccessful in your attempt with Varenicline (Champix®), you can get another course on the PBS in 6 months’ time following your first course.

For more information, visit the PBS website at www.pbs.gov.au or call the PBS Information Line on 1800 020 613.


If I don’t succeed in quitting with Varenicline (Champix®), can I still receive Bupropion (the other prescribed quit medication available in Australia)?

If you are assessed by your GP or specialist as being suitable for Bupropion, you will need to wait 6 months before being prescribed this medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), following your last attempt with Varenicline (Champix®).


Can I drink alcohol while using Varenicline (Champix®)?

Some people have reported increased intoxication effects from alcohol when using this medication. In addition, the manufacturer notes there is a possibility that alcohol intake may increase the risk of experiencing psychiatric events with Varenicline (Champix®) treatment.


Can I use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) at the same time as Varenicline (Champix®)?

This combination is not currently a recommended approach. At this stage, the advantages and safety of using NRT at the same time as Varenicline (Champix®) remain unknown.


Can I use Varenicline (Champix®) if I’m pregnant?

As the effects of Varenicline (Champix®) on pregnancy have not been adequately studied, it is not suitable to use this medication if you are pregnant.


Can Varenicline (Champix®) be used by children aged under 18 years?

As the effects of Varenicline (Champix®) on children have not been adequately studied, it is not suitable for people aged under 18 years to use this medication.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is the only pharmaceutical option for children under 18 years of age.


Can I use Varenicline (Champix®) if I’m taking medication for another illness?

You should tell your doctor if you are taking any medications – they will be able to provide you with information on which medicines you need to be careful with or avoid altogether while taking Varenicline (Champix®).

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