Varenicline for smoking cessation in patients with psychiatric illness: a review of the risks

Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
Record ID 32011001171
Authors' recommendations: Varenicline is an effective smoking cessation aid. Due to the concern of its potential for adverse effects on patients with existing mental illness, we conducted a rapid review of the evidence of safety data of varenicline in this patient population. In patients with depression, the depressive symptoms improved after treatment with varenicline, and there was no evidence of new/worsened mood disturbance or suicidality related to varenicline. In patients with schizophrenia, some benefits for verbal learning and memory were observed after the use of varenicline. No suicidal ideation was reported to be related to varenicline. In a population mixed with depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis, no evidence was found that patients experienced more adverse symptoms or varenicline worsened the existing mental illness, compared to those without a mental illness.The data were sparse and the quality of the included studies was low due to the sample size and design. Based on the studies included in this rapid review, there is no compelling evidence to justify the safety concerns of varenicline for smoking cessation in patients with mental illness. It remains unclear whether the improvement in psychiatric symptoms is related to the use of varenicline, or the use of concomitant medications. Further well-designed clinical studies would provide more rigorous evidence to fill the gap.
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2010
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: Canada
MeSH Terms
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Quinoxalines
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tobacco Use Cessation
Organisation Name: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
Contact Address: 600-865 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON K1S 5S8 Canada. Tel: +1 613 226 2553; Fax: +1 613 226 5392;
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Copyright: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH)
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