Japan - increased demand for anti-smoking aid Chantix (Champix)..

October 15, 2010 - Japan - with cigarette tax increase in place, fewer smokers buying cigarettes so far..

With an increased interest in quitting - Pfizer Japan Inc. can't keep up with soaring demand for its Champix anti-smoking aid as the cigarette price hike from the beginning of this month has caused an influx of patients at smoking cessation clinics.

Pfizer said it supplied the prescription drug for about 70,000 people a month until August, but the number jumped to about 170,000 in September and the company had already supplied about 80,000 people in the first six days of October. The demand has grown far bigger than the drugmaker expected and it has asked medical institutions to postpone prescribing the drug to new patients. The company said that while it is working to increase supply, new patients may not be able to try the drug until around early next year.

The orally administered tablets block the part of the brain that receives nicotine, making it difficult for recipients to crave cigarettes, according to Pfizer. When one begins the treatment, a small dose is taken once a day. The doses are gradually increased and the medication continues for three months.

"While it was beyond my expectation that (demand for the drug) has grown this much with only an increase of about ¥100 in cigarette prices, it is troubling that I can't prescribe it to new patients," said Yoji Hirayama, a doctor at Tokyo Medical University Hospital.

Caution should be exercised when using Chantix this drug has numerous side effects some life-threatening. We wonder if the risk of taking this drug is greater than its benefits..

Reference: Tobacco tax hike stokes antismoking drug demand, Kyodo News, The Japan times, 10/14/2010.

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