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Smoking Cessation Drugs May Not Increase Suicide Risk

Update Date: Oct 11, 2013 02:48 PM EDT

Taking smoking cessation drugs will not increase a person's suicide risk, according to a new study.

Researchers compared patients prescribed smoking cessation drugs to users of nicotine replacement therapy and found no evidence that non-nicotine drugs like varenicline and bupropion increase a person's risk of suicide, self-harm and depression.

Drugs like varenicline (brand name Chantix) and bupropion (brand name Zyban) work by helping to reduce nicotine cravings a withdrawal symptoms. However, concerns that these drugs may increase the risk of suicide have led to warnings by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

 The latest study involved data from 119,546 adults who had used a smoking cessation product between 1 September 2006 and 31 October 2011. The findings revealed treated depression, self-harm and suicide in 26.2 percent of patients prescribed varenicline, 5.6 percent of patients prescribed bupropion and 68.2 percent of people using nicotine replacement therapies.

Researchers said the latest study, which used three different analytical methods, revealed no clear evidence of an increased risk of treated depression or suicidal behavior for patients prescribed with varenicline or bupropion compared to those taking nicotine replacement therapies.

"Given the concerns and accompanying safety warnings for these drugs these findings are reassuring for users and prescribers of smoking cessation medicines," researcher Dr. Kyla Thomas said in a news release.

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

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