Safety and Tolerability of Varenicline Tartrate (Champix®/Chantix®) for Smoking Cessation in HIV-Infected Subjects: A Pilot Open-Label Study
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The prevalence of smoking in HIV-infected subjects is high. As a smoking cessation aid, varenicline (Champix(®), Pfizer, Saint-Laurent, QC, Canada or Chantix(®), Pfizer, Mission, KS) has not been previously evaluated in HIV-infected smokers. In this multicenter pilot open label study, varenicline 1.0 mg was used twice daily for 12 weeks with dose titration in the first week. Adverse events (AEs) during the treatment period were recorded. Changes from baseline in laboratory tests, vital signs, daily cigarette consumption, nicotine dependence, and withdrawal were measured through week 24. Self-reported abstinence was validated by serum cotinine at week 12. We enrolled 36 subjects with a mean of 29 pack-years of smoking and a minimum of 4 cigarettes per day. All but 1 were male, 33 (92%) were white. The most frequently reported AEs were nausea (33%), abnormal dreams (31%), affect lability (19%), and insomnia (19%). Six (17%) subjects discontinued varenicline due to AEs. No grade 3/4 laboratory abnormalities or serious AEs occurred during the study. There was no significant change in HIV viral load. CD4 counts increased by 69 cells/mm3 (p = 0.001) at week 24. Serum cotinine-verified 4-week continuous abstinence rate through weeks 9-12 was 42% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 26-58%). AEs and abstinence rates were comparable to those in published randomized controlled trials conducted in generally healthy HIV-negative smokers. Varenicline was safe and appears effective among HIV-infected smokers in this exploratory study, although AEs were common. The most common AE was nausea, with no adverse effect on HIV treatment outcome. Close monitoring of liver enzymes and blood pressure is recommended for HIV-positive smokers taking varenicline.
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