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February 2, 2008 | From Times Wire Reports
Government regulators said the connection between Pfizer's anti-smoking drug Chantix and serious psychiatric problems is "increasingly likely." The Food and Drug Administration said it has received reports of 37 suicides and more than 400 of suicidal behavior in connection with the drug. In November, the agency began investigating reports of depression, agitation and suicidal behavior among patients taking the popular twice-daily pill.
July 14, 2007 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Pfizer Inc.'s anti-smoking pill may help alcoholics stop drinking, UC San Francisco researchers reported Tuesday in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Chantix, or varenicline, regulates the body's levels of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with addiction. Rats that were trained to drink alcohol received the drug in doses similar to those used for smoking cessation in humans. The rats given the medicine drank less while under treatment and afterward.
April 14, 2008 | Melissa Healy, Times Staff Writer
As symptoms of depression go, there is none much clearer than having thoughts of suicide. But a spate of recent announcements from federal health officials suggests a surprising new interpretation of suicidal fantasies and the depression they are thought to signal: Sometimes, sadness, anxiety and self-destructive thoughts are not symptoms but side effects -- of medicine.
October 23, 2008 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Maugh is a Times staff writer.
The number of deaths and serious injuries associated with prescription drug use rose to record levels in the first quarter of this year, with 4,825 deaths and nearly 21,000 injuries, a watchdog group said Wednesday. Those numbers represent a nearly threefold increase in deaths from the previous quarter and a 38% increase in injuries from last year's quarterly average, according to the Horsham, Pa.-based Institute for Safe Medication Practices.
January 3, 2011 | By Francesca Lunzer Kritz, Special to the Los Angeles Times
What does it cost to stop smoking? For just about anyone, less than it does to keep smoking. Many smokers burn through thousands of dollars each year buying cigarettes alone. Then there are peripheral costs like breath mints, extra trips to the dry cleaner and higher premiums for health insurance. Quitting costs money too, but it's a better long-term investment. Plus, much of what you'll need to get started — nicotine gum, patches and even counseling sessions — is often available free.
February 16, 2009 | Amber Dance
It's one instance where quitting isn't the easy way out. Most smokers try to stop multiple times before finally kicking the habit, and fewer than 10% will succeed in permanently abstaining without medicine or counseling. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans are at least occasional smokers, risking cancer, heart disease and a shortened life span -- and costing the nation more than $193 billion annually, including healthcare costs and decreased workplace productivity among smokers, the CDC says.
February 9, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Two studies published online Tuesday by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine tell consumers more -- a little bit more, anyway -- about electronic cigarettes and their potential to help smokers cut back or quit the habit. Electronic cigarettes are built to look like real cigarettes.  They're made of plastic, run on batteries and allow users to inhale nicotine in a vapor form.  Unlike nicotine delivery products such as gum, lozenges or patches, or smoking cessation medications like Chantix, they allow users to hold something that feels like a cigarette and mimic the behavior of smoking.
July 21, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
Tobacco company rep David Howard waxes enthusiastic when he talks about a new product his employer, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., has developed: a pellet of finely cured tobacco, binders and flavoring that dissolves in the mouth in 10 minutes. Under test market in two U.S. cities — Denver and Charlotte, N.C. — Camel Orbs will join two dissolvable tobacco lozenges already on the market if it graduates to broader distribution. And Howard is optimistic it will. "These products provide smokers with an option to enjoy the pleasure of nicotine without bothering others," Howard said.
December 31, 2007 | Mary Beckman, Special to The Times
It's the time of year when people resolve to make changes in their lives. And we probably all know someone -- it might even be ourselves -- who vowed to quit that nasty, cancer-mongering habit: smoking. We also all know someone who stopped for a few days then lighted back up. Here's a closer look at one of the most difficult resolutions to keep: "I vow to quit smoking."
November 26, 2007 | Chris Woolston, Special to The Times
The product: If you've ever tried to give up smoking -- or been around someone who has--you've probably discovered that quitting isn't easy, even with the help of a patch, pill, gum or spray. Nicotine-replacement products work about 10% to 15% of the time. Prescription medications such as Zyban and the new drug Chantix can boost the odds for success to about 25% -- but there's still a roughly 100% chance of frayed nerves, foul moods and urges to light up.
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