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Chantix Use By Truckers Prohibited

Posted on May 23, 2008

The smoking cessation drug has already been linked to vivid dreams, suicide, depression and psychosis.  And now organizations in charge of public safety are getting worried.

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration banned the use of the smoking cessation drug for pilots and air traffic controllers.

Now the trucking industry wants drivers of big-rigs to stay off the drug.

Thursday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration  issued a warning to medical examiners who qualify truckers for commercial driving licenses against issuing licenses to users of Chantix.

The drug has a controversial history. Long linked to vivid dreams, it is increasingly found to increase psychotic episodes, dizziness, seizures, heart irregularity and diabetes. 

A non profit group, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, reported this week that Chantix was connected to 988 serious events in the last quarter of 2007.

Beside suicides, heart trouble, there was special concern for those operating airplanes or trucks — there were 173 serious injuries- some from traffic accidents when drivers were dizzy, mentally confused or became unconscious.

The nonprofit group concludes, “We have immediate safety concerns about the use of varenicline (Chantix) among persons operating aircraft, trains, buses and other vehicles, or in other settings where a lapse in alertness or motor control could lead to massive, serious injury.  Other examples include persons operating nuclear power reactors, high-rise construction cranes or life-sustaining medical devices.   Based on reports of sudden loss of consciousness, seizures, muscle spasms, vision disturbances, hallucinations, paranoia and psychosis, we believe varenicline may not be safe to use in these settings.”

It’;s estimated about 3.5 million Americans have taken Chantix.   

Drug maker, Pfizer reminds us all that there is a huge risk to smoking too.  And most medications have side effects.

Still, I don’;t want side effects occuring in my commercial plane pilot or in the driver of a truck next to me.   Rather be safe than sorry here and the move by the pilots and trucking industry is a good one.  #