CHANTIX (Page 5 of 10)

8.6 Renal Impairment

Varenicline is substantially eliminated by renal glomerular filtration along with active tubular secretion. Dose reduction is not required in patients with mild to moderate renal impairment. For patients with severe renal impairment (estimated creatinine clearance <30 mL/min), and for patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing hemodialysis, dosage adjustment is needed [see Dosage and Administration (2.2), Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].


9.1 Controlled Substance

Varenicline is not a controlled substance.

9.3 Dependence


Fewer than 1 out of 1,000 patients reported euphoria in clinical trials with CHANTIX. At higher doses (greater than 2 mg), CHANTIX produced more frequent reports of gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea and vomiting. There is no evidence of dose-escalation to maintain therapeutic effects in clinical studies, which suggests that tolerance does not develop. Abrupt discontinuation of CHANTIX was associated with an increase in irritability and sleep disturbances in up to 3% of patients. This suggests that, in some patients, varenicline may produce mild physical dependence which is not associated with addiction.

In a human laboratory abuse liability study, a single oral dose of 1 mg varenicline did not produce any significant positive or negative subjective responses in smokers. In non-smokers, 1 mg varenicline produced an increase in some positive subjective effects, but this was accompanied by an increase in negative adverse effects, especially nausea. A single oral dose of 3 mg varenicline uniformly produced unpleasant subjective responses in both smokers and non-smokers.


Studies in rodents have shown that varenicline produces behavioral responses similar to those produced by nicotine. In rats trained to discriminate nicotine from saline, varenicline produced full generalization to the nicotine cue. In self-administration studies, the degree to which varenicline substitutes for nicotine is dependent upon the requirement of the task. Rats trained to self-administer nicotine under easy conditions continued to self-administer varenicline to a degree comparable to that of nicotine; however in a more demanding task, rats self-administered varenicline to a lesser extent than nicotine. Varenicline pretreatment also reduced nicotine self-administration.


In case of overdose, standard supportive measures should be instituted as required.

Varenicline has been shown to be dialyzed in patients with end-stage renal disease [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)], however, there is no experience in dialysis following overdose.


CHANTIX tablets contain varenicline (as the tartrate salt), which is a partial nicotinic agonist selective for α4 β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes.

Varenicline, as the tartrate salt, is a powder which is a white to off-white to slightly yellow solid with the following chemical name: 7,8,9,10-tetrahydro-6,10-methano-6H -pyrazino[2,3- h][3]benzazepine, (2R ,3R)-2,3-dihydroxybutanedioate (1:1). It is highly soluble in water. Varenicline tartrate has a molecular weight of 361.35 Daltons, and a molecular formula of C13 H13 N3 ∙ C4 H6 O6 . The chemical structure is:

Chemical Structure
(click image for full-size original)

CHANTIX is supplied for oral administration in two strengths: a 0.5 mg capsular biconvex, white to off-white, film-coated tablet debossed with “Pfizer ” on one side and “CHX 0.5” on the other side and a 1 mg capsular biconvex, light blue film-coated tablet debossed with “Pfizer ” on one side and “CHX 1.0” on the other side. Each 0.5 mg CHANTIX tablet contains 0.85 mg of varenicline tartrate equivalent to 0.5 mg of varenicline free base; each 1 mg CHANTIX tablet contains 1.71 mg of varenicline tartrate equivalent to 1 mg of varenicline free base. The following inactive ingredients are included in the tablets: microcrystalline cellulose, anhydrous dibasic calcium phosphate, croscarmellose sodium, colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, Opadry® White (for 0.5 mg), Opadry® Blue (for 1 mg), and Opadry® Clear.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Varenicline binds with high affinity and selectivity at α4β2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. The efficacy of CHANTIX in smoking cessation is believed to be the result of varenicline’s activity at α4β2 sub-type of the nicotinic receptor where its binding produces agonist activity, while simultaneously preventing nicotine binding to these receptors.

Electrophysiology studies in vitro and neurochemical studies in vivo have shown that varenicline binds to α4β2 neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and stimulates receptor-mediated activity, but at a significantly lower level than nicotine. Varenicline blocks the ability of nicotine to activate α4β2 receptors and thus to stimulate the central nervous mesolimbic dopamine system, believed to be the neuronal mechanism underlying reinforcement and reward experienced upon smoking. Varenicline is highly selective and binds more potently to α4β2 receptors than to other common nicotinic receptors (>500-fold α3β4, >3,500-fold α7, >20,000-fold α1βγδ), or to non-nicotinic receptors and transporters (>2,000-fold). Varenicline also binds with moderate affinity (Ki = 350 nM) to the 5-HT3 receptor.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics


Maximum plasma concentrations of varenicline occur typically within 3–4 hours after oral administration. Following administration of multiple oral doses of varenicline, steady-state conditions were reached within 4 days. Over the recommended dosing range, varenicline exhibits linear pharmacokinetics after single or repeated doses.

In a mass balance study, absorption of varenicline was virtually complete after oral administration and systemic availability was ~90%.

Food Effect

Oral bioavailability of varenicline is unaffected by food or time-of-day dosing.


Plasma protein binding of varenicline is low (≤20%) and independent of both age and renal function.


The elimination half-life of varenicline is approximately 24 hours.


Varenicline undergoes minimal metabolism, with 92% excreted unchanged in the urine.


Renal elimination of varenicline is primarily through glomerular filtration along with active tubular secretion possibly via the organic cation transporter, OCT2.

Specific Populations

There are no clinically meaningful differences in varenicline pharmacokinetics due to age, race, gender, smoking status, or use of concomitant medications, as demonstrated in specific pharmacokinetic studies and in population pharmacokinetic analyses.

Age: Geriatric Patients

A combined single- and multiple-dose pharmacokinetic study demonstrated that the pharmacokinetics of 1 mg varenicline given once daily or twice daily to 16 healthy elderly male and female smokers (aged 65–75 years) for 7 consecutive days was similar to that of younger subjects.

Age: Pediatric Patients

Because the safety and effectiveness of CHANTIX in pediatric patients have not been established, CHANTIX is not recommended for use in patients under 18 years of age. Single and multiple-dose pharmacokinetics of varenicline have been investigated in pediatric patients aged 12 to 17 years old (inclusive) and were approximately dose-proportional over the 0.5 mg to 2 mg daily dose range studied. Steady-state systemic exposure in adolescent patients of bodyweight >55 kg, as assessed by AUC (0–24), was comparable to that noted for the same doses in the adult population. When 0.5 mg BID was given, steady-state daily exposure of varenicline was, on average, higher (by approximately 40%) in adolescent patients with bodyweight ≤ 55 kg compared to that noted in the adult population.

Renal Impairment

Varenicline pharmacokinetics were unchanged in subjects with mild renal impairment (estimated creatinine clearance >50 mL/min and ≤80 mL/min). In subjects with moderate renal impairment (estimated creatinine clearance ≥30 mL/min and ≤50 mL/min), varenicline exposure increased 1.5-fold compared with subjects with normal renal function (estimated creatinine clearance >80 mL/min). In subjects with severe renal impairment (estimated creatinine clearance <30 mL/min), varenicline exposure was increased 2.1-fold. In subjects with end-stage-renal disease (ESRD) undergoing a three-hour session of hemodialysis for three days a week, varenicline exposure was increased 2.7-fold following 0.5 mg once daily administration for 12 days. The plasma Cmax and AUC of varenicline noted in this setting were similar to those of healthy subjects receiving 1 mg twice daily [see Dosage and Administration (2.2), Use in Specific Populations (8.6)]. Additionally, in subjects with ESRD, varenicline was efficiently removed by hemodialysis [see Overdosage (10)].

Hepatic Impairment

Due to the absence of significant hepatic metabolism, varenicline pharmacokinetics should be unaffected in patients with hepatic impairment.

Drug-Drug Interactions

In vitro studies demonstrated that varenicline does not inhibit the following cytochrome P450 enzymes (IC50 >6400 ng/mL): 1A2, 2A6, 2B6, 2C8, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4/5. Also, in human hepatocytes in vitro , varenicline does not induce the cytochrome P450 enzymes 1A2 and 3A4.

In vitro studies demonstrated that varenicline does not inhibit human renal transport proteins at therapeutic concentrations. Therefore, drugs that are cleared by renal secretion (e.g., metformin [see below]) are unlikely to be affected by varenicline.

In vitro studies demonstrated the active renal secretion of varenicline is mediated by the human organic cation transporter OCT2. Co-administration with inhibitors of OCT2 (e.g., cimeditine [see below]) may not necessitate a dose adjustment of CHANTIX as the increase in systemic exposure to CHANTIX is not expected to be clinically meaningful. Furthermore, since metabolism of varenicline represents less than 10% of its clearance, drugs known to affect the cytochrome P450 system are unlikely to alter the pharmacokinetics of CHANTIX [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] ; therefore, a dose adjustment of CHANTIX would not be required.

Drug interaction studies were performed with varenicline and digoxin, warfarin, transdermal nicotine, bupropion, cimetidine, and metformin. No clinically meaningful pharmacokinetic drug-drug interactions have been identified.


When co-administered to 30 smokers, varenicline (1 mg twice daily) did not alter the steady-state pharmacokinetics of metformin (500 mg twice daily), which is a substrate of OCT2. Metformin had no effect on varenicline steady-state pharmacokinetics.


Co-administration of an OCT2 inhibitor, cimetidine (300 mg four times daily), with varenicline (2 mg single dose) to 12 smokers increased the systemic exposure of varenicline by 29% (90% CI: 21.5%, 36.9%) due to a reduction in varenicline renal clearance.


Varenicline (1 mg twice daily) did not alter the steady-state pharmacokinetics of digoxin administered as a 0.25 mg daily dose in 18 smokers.


Varenicline (1 mg twice daily) did not alter the pharmacokinetics of a single 25 mg dose of (R, S)-warfarin in 24 smokers. Prothrombin time (INR) was not affected by varenicline. Smoking cessation itself may result in changes to warfarin pharmacokinetics [see Drug Interactions (7.2)].

Use with Other Drugs for Smoking Cessation

Bupropion: Varenicline (1 mg twice daily) did not alter the steady-state pharmacokinetics of bupropion (150 mg twice daily) in 46 smokers [see Drug Interactions (7.1)].

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): Although co-administration of varenicline (1 mg twice daily) and transdermal nicotine (21 mg/day) for up to 12 days did not affect nicotine pharmacokinetics, the incidence of adverse reactions was greater for the combination than for NRT alone [see Drug Interactions (7.1)].

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